Ophthalmologists at California Retina Consultants Discuss Safe Ways to View Upcoming Solar Eclipse

Alessandro A Castellarin MD

By wearing the proper eye protection, everyone can enjoy this amazing celestial event safely.

In just three short weeks, we will be able to witness the most rare and spectacular cosmic event of our generation. The Great American Eclipse of 2017 will take place on August 21st with its path of totality extending across the United States from Salem, Oregon all the way to Charleston, South Carolina. The path of totality is a 70-mile wide trail where a full, total eclipse can be viewed. The solar eclipse will be unlike anything you have seen before. The sky will go completely dark, you will be able to see the stars, the temperature will drop, and you can also see the suns corona, an aura of plasma that surrounds the sun.

Because this solar eclipse may be the only one some people will ever witness in their lifetime, it is anticipated to be a highly followed event. This particular eclipse is rare because it is the first time the path of totality crosses the continental United States from coast to coast since June 8th of 1918- nearly 100 years!

What is Eclipse Blindness, Also Known as Solar Retinopathy?

Although this anticipated astronomical event is very exciting, it can also be extremely harmful to your vision unless proper precautions are taken before viewing. We all know that you should never look directly at the sun. But even during an eclipse, the sun’s light can cause permanent damage to the eyes which is referred to as “eclipse blindness” or solar retinopathy. Exposure to direct sunlight can cause permanent and irreversible damage to the retina. The retina is a thin layer of tissue that lines the back of the eye on the inside. Light rays are focused onto the retina through the cornea, pupil and lens. The retina then converts the light into neural signals, and sends these signals on to the brain for visual recognition.

Take Precautions for Safe Viewing

So how do you safely watch this wonder? The safest way is to view the eclipse through solar filter glasses that meet the worldwide standard known as ISO 12312-2. These solar glasses must be in perfect condition with no scratches, and should be less than three years old. The only time that you can safely look at the sun…

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