Eye Health and Safety: Don’t Look at the Sun

The Rules Haven't Changed

I have had a lot of people ask me about the total eclipse lately.  Just because there’s a celestial event doesn’t mean it is suddenly safe to look at the sun.

A Serious Question

I got a text a few days ago, and it went something like this:

A question about those paper glasses.  Are they really needed to view the eclipse, or are people just trying to make money?

It’s a valid question.  Especially now that counterfeit eclipse glasses are a problem.  It’s obvious some people will do anything to make a buck, even if it harms others.  Still, I was a little disappointed when I saw who sent me the text.

It was my own mother.

Confusion Reigns

I suppose even if you’re the mom of America’s Visionary Optometrist, you might be confused about what’s safe during the coming eclipse.

I have had patients who think the following eclipse viewing techniques will keep their eyes healthy:

  • Dilation sunglasses (you know, the plastic and paper ones you get from your eye doctor)
  • Regular sunglasses
  • Looking at the sun “quickly,” then looking away

I have also heard about other “techniques” that are really bad ideas, such as looking through:

  • A compact disc
  • Mylar balloon material
  • Solar or “survival” blanket material
  • Tinted glass

None of these techniques will protect your eyes during the eclipse.

How To Stay Safe

If you’re fortunate enough to have ISO certified eclipse glasses, you can use them to view the eclipse as long as you wish.  Just make sure you have a good pair.  If they are fake, you’ll know by looking through them – if you can see anything, they may be counterfeit.  Real eclipse glasses should only let sunlight through.

The American Astronomical Society (AAS) has a list of reputable vendors of eclipse glasses here.  And if you find yourself without eclipse glasses, you can view the eclipse using a pinhole or optical projector.  The AAS has instructions here.

It’s All About Your Eyes

You need clear vision and healthy eyes for a lifetime.  If you’re living the visual lifestyle, don’t risk it all by ignoring eye safety.

And, just because the eclipse is coming doesn’t mean the rules have changed.  Never look at the sun without proper eye protection.  If you don’t have certified eclipse glasses, then you will need to see the eclipse indirectly.  The only time you can look directly at the solar eclipse is if you are in the path of totality, and the moon is blocking the sun completely.

Protect your eyes properly, and enjoy the eclipse safely.

Question: What are your plans for the eclipse?  Please let me know in the comments below.


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