A Rare Solar Eclipse – Beautiful Yet Dangerous
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon blocks any part of the sun. On Monday, August 21st 2017 a solar eclipse will be visible, if skies are clear, across the entire continent of North America. People in a small, 70 mile wide path across the middle of the country will see a total eclipse of the sun, a rare and stunningly beautiful event. Here in Minnesota we will only see a partial eclipse of the sun. It will still be an amazing and beautiful sight.However, observing the Sun can be dangerous if you do not take the proper precautions. The concern over improper viewing of the Sun during an eclipse is for the development of “eclipse blindness” or retinal burns.
Exposure of the retina to intense visible light causes damage to its light-sensitive rod and cone cells. The light triggers a series of complex chemical reactions within the cells which damages their ability to respond to a visual stimulus, and in extreme cases, can destroy them. The result is a loss of visual function which may be either temporary or permanent, depending on the severity of the damage. The danger to vision is significant because photic retinal injuries occur without any feeling of pain (there are no pain receptors in the retina), and the visual effects do not occur for at least several hours after the damage is done.
The Proper Equipment is Essential to Your Safety
It is never safe to look at a partial or annular eclipse, or the partial phases of a total solar eclipse, without the proper equipment and techniques. Even when 99% of the Sun’s surface (the photosphere) is obscured during the partial phases of a solar eclipse, the remaining crescent Sun is still intense enough to cause a retinal burn, even though illumination levels are comparable to twilight. Failure to use proper observing methods may result in permanent eye damage or severe visual loss.
The Sun can only be viewed directly when filters specially designed to protect the eyes are used. Most such filters have a thin layer of chromium alloy or aluminum deposited on their surfaces that attenuates both visible and near-infrared radiation. Do not look at the partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars or other optical device, even if you are wearing your eclipse glasses – the concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter your eye, causing serious injury.
Eclipse Safety – Protect your eyes!
Looking directly at the sun during an eclipse, even for a few seconds, can cause permanent damage to your eyes. Make sure you and your loved ones have the proper filters to use during the August 21st solar eclipse. Come in to Uptown Eye Care during the week of Aug 14-18th to pick up a pair of eclipse glasses at no charge, while supplies last.
If you have any questions about protecting you and your family’s eyesight during this year’s solar eclipse, please contact us with your concerns.