For the first time since 1918, a total solar eclipse will cross the entire United States August 21. While partial eclipses are more common, a total solar eclipse occurs when the moon covers the entire face of the sun.
- Protect your eyes.
Practicing eye safety is imperative during any eclipse. Only ISO-certified eclipse glasses and hand-held solar viewers are safe when looking directly at the sun.
“The sun generates ultraviolet, visible and infrared light that can seriously damage the eye,” said Dr. Gregory Wolfe, faculty member of Southern College of Optometry. “Injuries include solar retinopathy, which permanently damages the retina and can lead to permanent vision loss. The damage is often painless during an eclipse, so people may not realize it’s happening.”
- Never remove your eclipse glasses.
“This eclipse is a rare opportunity for millions of people. While we encourage everyone to step outside to witness this indescribable event, it’s important people know how and when to use eclipse glasses,” said John Jerit, president and CEO of American Paper Optics, a manufacturer of certified eclipse glasses.
“It’s a common misperception that it’s safe to look at an eclipse without glasses during totality, when the moon completely obscures the sun. However, UV rays and infrared light can still bombard the eye and cause damage at this time,” Wolfe said.
- Be mindful of your geographical location.
The total solar eclipse will begin in Lincoln, Oregon, and end near Charleston, South Carolina. Only those within a 70-mile radius of that direct path will see the total solar eclipse.
“Those outside the narrow path of totality, which is most people in the U.S., will only be exposed to a partial eclipse,” Wolfe said. “It’s even more important that people outside the path do not remove their eclipse glasses at any point during this event.”
- Ensure your glasses are safe.
Safe solar viewers must meet the ISO 12312-2 international standard.
“ISO-certified eclipse products must be labeled to say they meet the specific standards and requirements. Only these products can protect eyes from harmful radiation,” Jerit said. “Also, inspect the condition of your glasses. Discard them if the filter is torn, scratched or punctured.”