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Gridley Herald

Five Tips to Help Safely View the Upcoming Solar Eclipse

Mar 28, 2024 11:53AM ● By Dr. Premilla Banwait, Vice President of Clinical Programs, UnitedHealthcare

Glasses are essential when watching a solar eclipse. Photo by Dave Davidson of Pixabay

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - For people in Sacramento and hundreds of millions more nationwide, the upcoming solar eclipse offers a great opportunity to view a rare celestial event.

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon blocks any part of the sun. On April 8, virtually everyone across the country will have the chance (weather permitting) to see at least a partial solar eclipse, while over 31 million people in a narrow path from Texas to Maine will have the opportunity to witness a total solar eclipse. In Sacramento, the eclipse coverage will reach a maximum of 34.3% at approximately 11:15:59 AM PDT. 

While the solar eclipse is a fun and educational opportunity for everyone, there are precautions you should take to help maintain your eye health while safely viewing this spectacle. Looking at a solar eclipse without proper protection may cause serious eye damage, including blurry vision that can last months, or even permanent problems such as “eclipse blindness.”

Prevent Blindness, the nation’s leading volunteer eye health and safety organization, has been spreading awareness since 1908 about preventing blindness. Below are five tips from Prevent Blindness to help safely view the solar eclipse:

Get protected. It is unsafe to look directly at the sun at any time and during a partial or total solar eclipse, other than if you are in the path of totality during the brief total phase. Proper eclipse viewing glasses, which are heavily tinted – much more so than regular sunglasses – can enable you to see the moon track across the orb of the sun until it creates a total eclipse, revealing the sun’s corona.

Avoid fakes. Use certified solar eclipse glasses, specifically ones that have been reviewed by the International Organization for Standardization and look out for fake viewers that may be sold. A list of vendors that sell certified solar eclipse glasses is available here. And make sure to read and follow any instructions packaged with or printed on the glasses.

Don’t add other devices. Even while wearing approved solar eclipse glasses, it’s important not to look at the sun through a camera, telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device. Doing so may concentrate the solar rays and damage the filter, enter your eyes, and potentially cause serious injury.

Use caution during the moment of totality. If you are planning to watch the eclipse from along the 13-state path of totality, eclipse glasses should be worn during the entirety of the partial eclipse phase and may only be removed once the moon completely blocks the sun. Once the sun reappears, glasses should be replaced.

Consider a comprehensive eye exam. If you or a loved one experience eye discomfort or vision problems following the solar eclipse, visit a local eye care professional for a comprehensive exam. Importantly, comprehensive eye exams may also identify vision problems while helping with the potential detection of other health issues, including diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer. 

The upcoming solar eclipse can be a fun and educational opportunity, provided you take the necessary precautions to protect your eye health.