On August 21, 2017, the moon will cover the sun for about two hours, a total solar eclipse. The excitement is building for something that may only happen once in a lifetime. At the same time, there are reports of eye injuries with sun gazing that are completely preventable.
The most important thing to keeping your eyes safe, is to use approved solar eclipse glasses and solar filters. It is not a great idea to buy the solar eclipse glasses from just any vendor that may pop up on an online search. The correct glasses must meet the International Standard ISO 12312-2. Regular dark sunglasses, cameras, or telescopes are not safe, and will not be enough protection. With increased demand, reports of some vendors selling fake glasses online that have the ISO logo printed on them, however they but do not block the UV and infrared rays!
The only way to make sure your eclipse glasses and filters are safe is to verify the source. For a list of approved vendors you can visit : https://eclipse.aas.org/resources/solar-filters.
Watching a solar eclipse is such a great experience, but if you are not using the right glasses and filters, serious eye injury can occur. Staring at the sun for even a few seconds can cause damage to our sensitive retina in the back of the eye; this damage is called solar retinopathy.
The infrared and UV rays can literally cook the sensitive rods and cones in the retina and create a permanent blind area in our central vision.
It is essential to make sure that the filter is not scratched or damaged before using your solar eclipse glasses. When it is time to view the eclipse, put the approved eclipse glasses on, look away from the sun and then look up.The sun should be the only thing visible through your eclipse glasses and it shouldn’t be uncomfortably bright either. Remember, do not remove them while you are still looking at the sun!
In any case, if you have any of the following symptoms contact your eye doctor right away:
-Watery, sore eyes.
-Pain/discomfort looking at bright lights.
-Distorted vision and difficulty seeing details.
-Noticing a new blind spot in the center of your vision.
At Kirkland Vision Center, we hope that you enjoy the eclipse and keep your eyes safe and healthy!
Dr. Nicole Shams, OD.
Kirkland vision Center