Enjoy the Solar Eclipse Safely
We are now just a few days away from the first total solar eclipse in North America
since 1979. While Naperville is not far enough south for the eclipse to be total, we
are close enough to the alignment of the sun and moon to see a significant partial
eclipse. Many of us will plan to watch. Unfortunately, looking directly at the sun,
anytime, and especially for minutes at a time is bad for your eyes. The delicate
photoreceptors in your eyes can be permanently damaged from the sun’s intense
The damage or solar retinopathy is not painful as it is happening. Somewhat like
getting a sunburn, the damage is appreciated after the fact, when it is too late. The
retina cannot feel pain, as the retina has no pain receptors. What can happen is that
the delicate sensors called rods and cones are permanently damaged resulting in
decreased acuity and color vision.
It’s important to note that everyday sunglasses are not adequate protection for
viewing an eclipse. Smoked glass, unfiltered telescopes or magnifiers, and
polarizing filters are not safe either!
In order to safely view an eclipse, you must have special-purpose solar filters or
‘eclipse glasses’ that meet international standard ISO 12312-2 rating. These special
‘eclipse glasses’ are generally not expensive but they are becoming increasingly
difficult to find. Many suppliers have sold out at this time.
Fortunately, we were able to get a supply of these eclipse glasses and have them at
our office. Stop by and get a pair before they’re all gone. And hope for clear skies
overhead on the 21st of this month.
For more information, check out the American Optometric Association’s website,
www.AOA.org. There is a wealth of information on this topic to be found there.