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Eye Safety Should be the First Priority when Viewing a Solar Eclipse

Posted on: April 7th, 2024 by Our Team

There are significant dangers of viewing a solar eclipse incorrectly.  According to Jeff Todd, President and CEO of Prevent Blindness, “During the last viewable eclipse in 2017, 215 million adults watched the event, but only 72% of people used eclipse glasses due to short supply.” (1)  If eyes are not protected while looking at the sun during a solar eclipse, it can result in “eclipse blindness” or solar retinopathy which can cause damage or destruction to the cells in the retina.  Some of the other symptoms include distorted vision and altered color vision.

The organization notes the only time it is safe to view an eclipse without eye protection is during a total solar eclipse, i.e., the part of the solar eclipse where the moon completely covers the sun.  When viewing a partial eclipse, however, an eye protection must be worn or there is a risk of damage to the eyes.  It should be recognized that even during a total eclipse when the moon moves away from blocking the sun, it is still possible to get a solar burn on the retina when there is not proper protection.  This again can cause permanent damage to the eye.

Recommended Ways to View a Solar Eclipse

Prevent Blindness identifies the following says to safely watch a solar eclipse by using:

  • Solar eclipse glasses
  • Pinhole protection
  • Welder’s glass
  • Mylar filters
  • Aluminized mylar plastic sheets. (2)

Harmful Ways Solar Eclipses are Viewed

  • Using a smartphone – the danger is the viewer will be at risk if accidentally looking at the sun while trying to line up the camera and can also potentially damage the phone’s camera
  • Using a camera viewfinder – unless specifically designed for viewing a solar eclipse, no filter is safe to use with any optical device, e.g., telescopes, binoculars, etc.

When is the Solar Eclipse?

The total solar eclipse in North America will occur on April 8, 2024 across most of the U.S. with a small band of total solar eclipse stretching from east to west across much of the continent. Another total eclipse will not be viewable in the U.S. until 2045.

  • Prevent Blindness Focuses on Eye Safety for Upcoming Solar Eclipses, June 2023.
  • Prevent Blindness, Your Sight, Protect Your Eyes from the Sun, June 2023

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