Staring directly at the sun is, by and large, a bad idea.
During a total eclipse, however, when the moon blocks the face of the sun in its entirety, you can catch a brief glimpse if you’re fortunate enough to be in the path of totality. This breathtaking phenomenon will occur once again on Monday, Aug. 21, the first eclipse in 99 years to be visible across the entire contiguous United States, from Salem, Oregon, to Charleston, South Carolina.
Those not in the path of totality – like KinderMender’s Maryland patients – will only be privy to a partial solar eclipse. In all cases, extreme caution must be exercised to protect your vision.
According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), viewing an eclipse without protection can cause serious damage to the eyes. Special solar filters or “eclipse glasses” are an absolute must to prevent retina damage or “eclipse blindness” that stems from solar radiation.
But beware – some solar eclipse glasses are outright fakes, fashioned only to make their manufacturers a quick buck. In fact, Howard County Recreation and Parks recently alerted guests to a recent Solar Fest that glasses handed out at the event have been recalled by Amazon, and is urging that the devices not be worn during Monday’s eclipse event.
Fortunately, an American Astronomical Society task force has put together a list of reputable vendors and manufacturers, as well as the retail outlets selling glasses that meet international safety standards.
In addition to obtaining protective eyewear, refer to our handy list of eclipse safety tips below to stay safe while watching the skies.
- Supervise all children using solar filters and eclipse glasses to ensure proper usage.
- Confirm that the glasses you purchase meet international safety standards, represented with the code ISO 12312-2: 2015. Many disreputable vendors are selling fake glasses that will not provide adequate protection – or protection of any kind.
- Read and follow all directions included with your authorized filters and/or glasses.
- Inspect your solar filters and eyewear prior to use. Discard those that appear scratched or damaged in any way.
- Continue to wear your prescription glasses while using a hand-held solar viewer or eclipse glasses.
- Make a pinhole camera with your child. This time-honored device has been proven to be a safe and fun way to view a solar eclipse.
- Watch online and televised coverage of the total eclipse if you are not lucky enough to be in the narrow strip of the country that will experience totality. NASA will be live streaming the event, and multiple networks plan to air televised specials surrounding the eclipse.
- NEVER observe a partial eclipse without proper eye protection.
- Do not view the eclipse through unfiltered sunglasses, binoculars, telescopes, or camera lenses. Solar filters must be attached to the front of these devices. Seek professional assistance.
- Additionally, DO NOT view the eclipse through sunglasses, binoculars, telescopes, camera lenses, or similar equipment while using your solar filter or wearing your eclipse glasses.
- Don’t assume that all products labeled as ISO 12312-2 are authentic. Verify a product’s reliability by referencing the AAS Task Force’s approved vendors list.
- Never remove your solar filter or eclipse glasses while still looking at the sun.
- Don’t stare consistently at the sun. Rest your eyes periodically.
KinderMender hopes you and your family get the most out of Monday’s exciting solar event. As always, our offices will be open shortly after the sun rises the following morning, and every morning throughout the year.