With the “once in a lifetime” solar eclipse just days away, viewing interest and curiosity are escalating to an all- time high. If you are hoping to catch a glimpse of the big event on Monday, it is important to take the proper eye safety precautions to prevent permanent damage to your vision.
Viewing the partially blocked light of a solar eclipse, even for a short period, can cause a condition known as “solar retinopathy”. This involves essentially a painless sunburn on the back of your eye potentially leaving a permanent blind spot in your central vision. Sunglasses only block about half of the light and will NOT prevent damage. Viewing the eclipse with a telescope or binoculars WITHOUT proper protection will only magnify the damage.
Only glasses specifically manufactured to protect from eye damage block all but about 0.001% of the sunlight rays. Such solar eclipse glasses meet an international standard denoted as “ISO 12312-2” which should be printed on the glasses. However, you don’t want to use them for any other activities unless you want to perform such activities blind folded. They block out too much light to wear for other casual uses. Finally, make sure there are no scratches on them that can allow you to see through them to avoid any eye damage.
With proper protection, one can enjoy the big event and live to SEE another day! Happy BUT SAFE viewing!