The northeastern and southwestern states will only see a partial eclipse, but if you live in (or plan to visit) the “path of totality,” you’ll be able to witness a rare and stunning sight. But no matter how much of the eclipse you see, make sure you’re protecting your eyes.
If viewed improperly, the eclipse can cause permanent vision damage. When intense solar radiation hits the retinas, it can damage and even destroy those cells, in what is called a retinal photochemical injury, or solar retinopathy. The damage is painless and can occur in a very short amount of time. Symptoms of retinal damage can include sudden onset of blurred vision, headache, and extreme light sensitivity, and should be checked by your optometrist.
There are two main options you can choose from when it comes to protecting your eyes from the eclipse. One, which you can easily make with common household items, is a pinhole projector, which essentially creates a dimmer (and thus safe) image of the eclipse that you can watch without fear of damage to your eyes.
The other option is to watch the eclipse through a pair of eclipse glasses. These are not the same as ordinary sunglasses, and not all eclipse glasses are created equal. Make sure the eclipse glasses you use meet NASA’s safety requirements. You can find the list of approved eclipse glasses at the following link.
There are also safety covers you can place on cameras, telescopes, and binoculars, none of which are safe to watch the eclipse through. It is unsafe even if you’re wearing eclipse glasses, because they magnify the light hitting your eyes even more! If you are planning on viewing the eclipse with any of these devices, seek advice from an expert astronomer before doing so.
To learn more about solar eclipses, check out the video below:
If you have any questions about the eclipse and your eyes, we’re here to answer them. Spread the word about eclipse eye safety, and we hope you and your loved ones have a great (and safe) time watching the eclipse!
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.