Safely Viewing the Solar Eclipse
On August 21st, a total solar eclipse will pass over the entire continental United States for the first time since 1918. Witnessing this spectacle can be a once in a lifetime opportunity, but it’s important to remember the dangers associated with looking directly at the sun – even during an eclipse.
But what’s the harm of briefly looking at the sun to watch the eclipse, you might ask? When you look directly into the sun, even for just a few seconds, the natural lens inside of your eye acts like a magnifying glass, more strongly focusing dangerous ultraviolet rays onto the retina. This may cause a condition called solar retinopathy, where the delicate retina is burned causing temporary or permanent damage to your vision. Some common side effects of solar retinopathy include blind spots, light sensitivity, and vision loss.
Experts at The Eye Institute of Utah say that you can still enjoy the solar eclipse without causing damage to your eyes if you follow these guidelines.
Wear NASA Approved Solar Eclipse Glasses
There are a number of companies taking advantage of the solar eclipse hype, and selling counterfeit protective eyewear. It is important when purchasing solar eclipse glasses to make sure they meet the following criteria:
- Make sure the glasses meet the ISO 12312-2 international standard.
- The manufacturer’s name and address should be printed on the glasses.
- The glasses SHOULD NOT have scratches or wrinkles, and they should not be more than 3 years old.
If you are unable to get a pair of proper solar eclipse glasses, NASA also recommends welder’s glasses rated 14 or higher.
What NOT to do When Watching the Solar Eclipse
Although approved solar eclipse glasses are successful at protecting the naked eye, if you are looking at the sun through a telescope or binoculars, you also need to have a protective solar filter on the magnifying device.
Sunglasses are NOT sufficient protection when look directly at the sun to view a solar eclipse.
If you follow the safety precautions outlined, then you can enjoy this spectacular event without fear of damaging your vision!
UPDATE: We are NOT selling solar eclipse glasses at The Eye Institute of Utah. If you live in the Salt Lake Valley, you can purchase solar eclipse glasses at the Clark Planetarium, or through one of the reputable vendors listed here by the American Astronomical Society: Reputable Vendors for Solar Eclipse Glasses