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The North American Solar Eclipse of 2024- Vision Safety Tips from a Neuro-Ophthalmologist

partial solar eclipse with moon covering 90% of sun and only a narrow crescent of sun exposed
Partial solar eclipse

On April 8, 2024, millions of people in the U.S. will witness day turn to night during the North American Solar Eclipse. And across 15 states, from Texas to Maine, many people will have the opportunity to witness a total solar eclipse.


During a total solar eclipse, you can see the spectacular colors and light of the sun’s atmosphere, a sight revealed to us only during a total solar eclipse.


While you cannot completely prepare yourself for the amazing sight of a total solar eclipse, you should be prepared with proper eye protection.


Viewing even the smallest sliver of a crescent sun peeking out from behind the moon is enough to cause irreversible damage to your vision. The powerful rays of the sun can burn holes in the retina, leading to an irreversible condition called solar retinopathy.


Sadly, I've taken care of patients who directly viewed the sun during an eclipse consequently lost their central vision. Unfortunately, there is no treatment for solar retinopathy and it can cause legal blindness.


There is one exception to this rule. There is a brief phase during a total solar eclipse when it is safe to look directly at the sun. This phase is called Totality, and it occurs when the moon entirely blocks the sun’s bright face. Totality will last about 3-4 minutes during the solar eclipse of 2024. But as soon as the sun begins to reappear, be sure to put the solar filters back on!


Outside the path of Totality, sky watchers will witness a partial solar eclipse.


There are no exceptions to the rules for safely viewing a partial solar eclipse. To keep your eyes safe for eclipse viewing, remember these four tips:


• Use specially designed solar eclipse glasses and viewers to block the sun’s harmful rays. Ordinary sunglasses, even dark ones, are not strong enough to protect your eyes. Be sure your solar eclipse glasses meet the international safety standards. They should be certified with the ISO 12312-2 seal.


• Inspect your solar filter before the eclipse, and don’t use it if it’s scratched or damaged.


• Another option is to view the eclipse through #14 welder’s glass. That’s much darker than the shades arc welders typically wear.


• Use solar filters on camera lenses, binoculars, and telescopes. Do not use solar eclipse glasses to look through a camera, binoculars or a telescope. The sun can melt the filter and damage your eyes.


To learn more about safe eclipse viewing, watch my YouTube video:



Hope you will enjoy a safe and memorable North American Solar Eclipse - your eyes will thank you for years to come!


Also if you happen to be an eclipse-chaser, watch out for several upcoming partial solar eclipses throughout the world over the next few years, as well as a several total solar eclipses as well.


You’ll have to wait a bit though for the next one in the US - it’s on August 23, 2044! Save the date in your calendar and remember to use proper eye protection!


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