As eyes intently look to the sky for a glimpse of The Great American Eclipse this Monday, make sure all pairs are protected.
“The only one safe way to look directly at the sun is through special purpose solar filters, which are called solar eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewers,” said Dr. Norman Rone. “An eclipse is a rare and striking phenomenon you won’t want to miss, but it is vital you protect your eyes.”
Do not look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars, or other optical device, Rone says.
Similarly, do not look at the sun through a camera, telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device while using your eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewer — the concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter your eyes, causing serious injury.
While it may be tempting to brush off warnings against looking up at the eclipse with bare eyes, don’t. “Exposure of the retina to intense visible light causes damage to its light-sensitive rod and cone cells,” said Rone. “The light triggers a series of complex chemical reactions within the cells which damage their ability to respond to a visual stimulus, and in extreme cases, can destroy them. The result is a loss of visual function which may be either temporary or permanent, depending on the severity of the damage.”
The only time the eclipse can be viewed safely with the naked eye is at the time of the total eclipse, when the moon completely covers the disk of the sun and it suddenly gets quite dark. Individuals can remove their solar filters temporarily. However, if you are looking toward the sun as the moon moves away from blocking the sun, you might get a solar burn on your retina.
For those not in the path of totality, it is never safe to look at a partial or annular eclipse, or the partial phases of a total solar eclipse, without the proper eye protection.
A solar eclipse is one of nature’s grandest spectacles. By taking proper care, you can safely enjoy the view and be rewarded with memories.