WARNING: Eye Protection CRITICAL for Solar Eclipse on Aug. 21, 2017

WARNING: Eye Protection CRITICAL for Solar Eclipse on Aug. 21, 2017

Santosh Varughese May, 26 2017

The excitement and thrill of witnessing a full solar eclipse is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. People gather from all over the world to witness this celestial event, but there is one serious topic that is an absolute requirement, and that’s protecting your eyes from the severe damage that can be caused by looking directly at the eclipse.

Eye protection cannot be emphasized enough.

“..looking directly at the sun can seriously damage your eyes. Staring at the sun for even a short time without wearing the right eye protection can damage your retina permanently. It can even cause blindness, called solar retinopathy.” – American Academy of Ophthalmology

This isn’t just a calm ‘safety alert’, this is an all-out warning. You MUST use specially designed ‘eclipse glasses’ or face the potential destruction of your eyesight.

“Exposure of the retina to intense visible light causes damage to its light-sensitive rod and cone cells. The light triggers a series of complex chemical reactions within the cells which damages 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.

When a person looks repeatedly or for a long time at the Sun without proper protection for the eyes, this photochemical retinal damage may be accompanied by a thermal injury - the high level of visible and near-infrared radiation causes heating that literally cooks the exposed tissue.

This thermal injury or photocoagulation destroys the rods and cones, creating a small blind area. The danger to vision is significant because photic retinal injuries occur without any feeling of pain (there are no pain receptors in the retina), and the visual effects do not occur for at least several hours after the damage is done.” – NASA.gov

When a person looks repeatedly or for a long time at the Sun without proper protection for the eyes, this photochemical retinal damage may be accompanied by a thermal injury - the high level of visible and near-infrared radiation causes heating that literally cooks the exposed tissue. This thermal injury or photocoagulation destroys the rods and cones, creating a small blind area.

The danger to vision is significant because photic retinal injuries occur without any feeling of pain (there are no pain receptors in the retina), and the visual effects do not occur for at least several hours after the damage is done.” – NASA.gov

This thermal injury or photocoagulation destroys the rods and cones, creating a small blind area. The danger to vision is significant because photic retinal injuries occur without any feeling of pain (there are no pain receptors in the retina), and the visual effects do not occur for at least several hours after the damage is done.” – NASA.gov

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology:

“There is only one safe way to look directly at the sun, whether during an eclipse or not: through special-purpose solar filters. These solar filters are used in “eclipse glasses” or in hand-held solar viewers. They must meet a very specific worldwide standard known as ISO 12312-2.

Keep in mind that ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, or homemade filters are not safe for looking at the sun.”

"Acceptable eyewear is a Welder's filter NO 14 or a popular inexpensive alternative is aluminized mylar, manufactured specifically for solar observation.”

No OTHER kind of glasses, including regular sunglasses, are acceptable to protect your eyes during a solar eclipse.

To enjoy one of nature’s celestial performances, you need to take care of yourself and your family to ensure that you don’t burn your eyes.

Do NOT bring pets along on your trip as they can become frightened and run away as well as have potential harm to their eyes.

NASA.gov offers this information so that you will now the various stages of the total solar eclipse and understand when you must wear your solar eclipse glasses:

1} Stage 1: Protective Glasses are VITAL at this stage:

When the moon begins to move in front of the sun, there will be many moments when bright points of light show around the moon’s edges.

2} Stage 2: Protective Glasses are VITAL at this stage:

As the moon moves across the sun’s view, these points of light start to diminish until there is only one bead of light.

3} Stage 3: You can look at the eclipse safely

Once the ‘diamond appearance’ disappears and there isn’t any light shining towards you, you can view the solar eclipse safely.

4} Stage 4: Protective Glasses are VITAL at this stage:

As the moon continues across the face of the sun, you are in the final stages of the eclipse and it will repeat the same view. It is imperative that you have your solar eclipse glasses on.

American Academy of Ophthalmology: “Steps to follow for safely watching a solar eclipse:

  • Carefully look at your solar filter or eclipse glasses before using them. If you see any scratches or damage, do not use them.
  • Always read and follow all directions that come with the solar filter or eclipse glasses. Help children to be sure they use handheld solar viewers and eclipse glasses correctly.
  • Before looking up at the bright sun, stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer. After glancing at the sun, turn away and remove your filter—do not remove it while looking at the sun.
  • The only time that you can look at the sun without a solar viewer is during a total eclipse. When the moon completely covers the sun’s bright face and it suddenly gets dark, you can remove your solar filter to watch this unique experience. Then, as soon as the bright sun begins to reappear very slightly, immediately use your solar viewer again to watch the remaining partial phase of the eclipse.
  • Never look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed Sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars or other similar devices. This is important even if you are wearing eclipse glasses or holding a solar viewer at the same time. The intense solar rays coming through these devices will damage the solar filter and your eyes.
  • Talk with an expert astronomer if you want to use a special solar filter with a camera, a telescope, binoculars or any other optical device.

For information about where to get the proper eyewear or handheld viewers, check out the American Astronomical Society.”

Additional Ways to View the Solar Eclipse and Protect Your Eyes:

While the solar eclipse glasses are an inexpensive method for viewing (around $1 or so) there are both telescopes and binoculars that have built-in solar filters to offer safe viewing for the solar eclipse. The binoculars are around $10 and the telescopes are available in different sizes, each size priced based on its strength. The telescopes make use of a solar filter behind the lens that blocks out the harmful UV radiation and intense light. Some telescopes offer a removable filter designed just for protection during an eclipse.

NASA.gov information on eclipse glasses and filters:

“The Sun can only be viewed directly when filters specially designed to protect the eyes are used. Most such filters have a thin layer of chromium alloy or aluminum deposited on their surfaces that attenuate both visible and near-infrared radiation. A safe solar filter should transmit less than 0.003% (density~4.5) of visible light (380 to 780 nm) and no more than 0.5% (density~2.3) of the near-infrared radiation (780 to 1400 nm).”

Unsafe filters include all color film, black-and-white film that contains no silver, photographic negatives with images on them (x-rays and snapshots), smoked glass, sunglasses (single or multiple pairs), photographic neutral density filters and polarizing filters. Most of these transmit high levels of invisible infrared radiation which can cause a thermal retinal burn.

The fact that the Sun appears dim, or that you feel no discomfort when looking at the Sun through the filter, is no guarantee that your eyes are safe. Solar filters designed to thread into eyepieces that are often provided with inexpensive telescopes are also unsafe. These glass filters can crack unexpectedly from overheating when the telescope is pointed at the Sun, and retinal damage can occur faster than the observer can move the eye from the eyepiece.

Avoid unnecessary risks. Your local planetarium, science center, or amateur astronomy club can provide additional information on how to observe the eclipse safely.

The fact that the Sun appears dim, or that you feel no discomfort when looking at the Sun through the filter, is no guarantee that your eyes are safe. Solar filters designed to thread into eyepieces that are often provided with inexpensive telescopes are also unsafe.

These glass filters can crack unexpectedly from overheating when the telescope is pointed at the Sun, and retinal damage can occur faster than the observer can move the eye from the eyepiece. Avoid unnecessary risks. Your local planetarium, science center, or amateur astronomy club can provide additional information on how to observe the eclipse safely.

Everyone observing this phenomenal event wants to ensure that it is enjoyed and carried as a life memory. Take the safety precautions to make sure that you care for yourself and those with you.

Resources & More Information

For answers to 76 Frequently Asked Questions on this Solar Eclipse, Click HERE for FAQ

For Google Map of the PATH of TOTALITY across the USA, Click HERE for Solar Eclipse MAP

For State by State Information on this Solar Eclipse, Click HERE for INFO

For T-shirts, mugs, pillows, tote bags to celebrate, to commemorate, Click HERE for GEAR

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