6 Tips for Viewing the Solar Eclipse Safely

How to View Eclipse Safely

On August 21, 2017, everyone in North America will be able to experience the eclipse, but the U.S. will be in the viewable path of a historical coast-to-coast total solar eclipse. Spanning a 67-mile wide path from the west coast to the east coast, the eclipse will begin in Oregon at 10:16am PDT and end in South Carolina at 2:48pm EDT.  The last coast-to-coast total solar eclipse occurred almost 100 years ago. Viewing the solar eclipse safely is extremely important.

The totality phase of the eclipse will cross through 14 States (Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia and South Carolina), and will be viewable from Kansas City, MO and St. Louis, MO.

Here are six tips for viewing the solar eclipse safely:

1. Viewing the solar eclipse without the appropriate protection can cause permanent damage to your vision. This is not a myth or a scare tactic. The only safe way to view the eclipse is through certified solar glasses, shields or filters. Dark sunglasses will not do the trick. In addition, certified filters must be used when taking photography with cameras and phones, or when using binoculars, telescopes and other optical viewing devices.

2. Make sure your eclipse glasses/shades and handheld viewers are purchased from reputable vendors.  Several types of glasses are flooding the marketplace, according to the AAS (American Astronomical Society). Counterfeit equipment may claim to meet ISO 12312-2:2015, the international safety standard for solar viewing. According to NASA, only five manufacturers have certified eclipse glasses / solar viewers that meet the ISO 12312-2 international standard:

  • American Paper Optics
  • Baader Planetarium (AstroSolar Silver/Gold lm only)
  • Rainbow Symphony
  • Thousand Oaks Optical
  • TSE 17

To ensure your eclipse glasses aren’t fake, visit the links below for more information on reputable vendors.

3. Inspect your eclipse glasses for scratches or other damage. Eclipse glasses/solar viewers have special filters applied that make it safe to view the eclipse. If the filter becomes damaged, exposure to the sun, even through the smallest scratch can cause serious damage to your eyes. We recommend discarding damaged eclipse glasses/viewers and purchasing or obtaining from the vendors listed above.

Check with local schools, libraries, and science museums as a number of compliant shades have been distributed to organizations across the country. Discover Vision offices will also have a limited number of certified eclipse shades available to our patients the week leading up to the eclipse.

4. Wear your eclipse glasses at all times while looking at the sun. You should NEVER look directly at the sun without the appropriate eyewear. Before you look up, apply your eclipse glasses while facing the opposite direction.  Eclipse glasses should always be applied before you look at the sun, and should remain on until you safely look away.

5. Looking directly at the eclipse is only safe during Totality. Totality occurs when the sun is completely blocked by the moon. NASA estimates that the total eclipse will last for 2 minutes and 40 seconds, depending on your location. It is safe to remove your eclipse glasses/filter during this time. At any time before and after Totality, reapply your certified shades to view the remaining phases of the eclipse.

Please note: While it is safe to remove your glasses during Totality, it is difficult to know exactly when this phase begins and ends from your particular viewing point. For this reason, our Retina Team does not recommend removing your glasses if you are uncertain.

6. Supervise your children.  The eclipse will be a memorable experience for the entire family. Please ensure that your children know and follow the rules for safe viewing. For safety, we recommend that eclipse glasses should be worn at all times for children.

The total solar eclipse will be a miraculous experience for anyone in its viewable path. Please follow these tips to view the eclipse safely with your family and friends.  Learn as much as you can about safe viewing from NASA, the AAS or other reputable organizations.

On behalf of the Discover Vision team, we look forward to viewing the solar eclipse safely with you.

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