Eye Protection for the Upcoming 2017 Solar Eclipse
On Monday late morning (August 21, 2017) the heavens will go dark and you’ll experience a sudden ‘night time’ – don’t be alarmed, it’s not Kim Jong Un ending the world, it’s just a Solar Eclipse!
A solar eclipse is basically a perfect storm of alignment of the Sun, the Moon, and the Earth.
A Solar Eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth and when the Moon fully or partially blocks (“occults”) the Sun and can only be seen from specific areas on earth, in fact, only on earth, which is the only place in the solar system where this actually happens.
This 2017 solar eclipse will be the first total solar eclipse in continental North America in 38 years and the first one in 99 years to stretch from one U.S. coast to the other.
The.moon’s shadow actually travels across Earth’s surface at up to 5,000 miles per hour so the eclipse is fleeting, just over 2 hours – start to finish.
This year, if you have clear skies and live in the Lower Mainland, you’ll get to experience an almost total eclipse (about 88%) that lasts for 2 hours and 27 minutes.
It begins on Monday, Aug 21, 2017, at 9:10 am PST AND maxes at 10:21 am and ends at 11:37 am.
While everyone in continental North America will see at least a partial eclipse, the most eclipse-fortunate place on earth will be my old stomping grounds in Oregon – specifically the Willamette Valley.
Carbondale, Illinois, however, will see an eclipse on August 21, 2017, and then once again on April 8, 2024!
If you intend to view it, you’ll need to take proper precautions to protect your eyes.
Remember, even viewing the corona (meaning ‘crown’ which is the aura of plasma that surrounds stars including our sun and is visible during a total eclipse) without protective glasses can burn the retina at the back of the eye; doing this for even just a few seconds can lead to potential and permanent eye damage called solar retinopathy.
Solar retinopathy symptoms may present days later with a blurry or even permanent dark, (sometimes described as ‘blind’) spot in your central vision.
The damage is often described as “burning” of the retina, but in actuality it’s due to a photochemical injury in the central retina made up of photoreceptors called cones, not actually burning or a thermal (temperature-related) injury.
Under normal circumstances there are natural reflexes that cause the eyes to blink or our pupil to constrict when exposed to bright environments, but this doesn’t occur or is greatly diminished during the dark conditions of a solar eclipse.
During a solar eclipse, even though most of the visible light is blocked out because the sun is blocked, there are still some highly dangerous UV (ultraviolet) and infrared radiation getting through.
Image by Philip Ronan, Gringer via Wikimedia Commons
There are special ways to view eclipses, through pinhole boxes, welders glasses and other methods that include “Eclipse glasses” or “eclipse viewers”.
By COD Newsroom via Wikimedia Commons
DO NOT USE REGULAR SUNGLASSES– they simply don’t block enough light.
Eclipse glasses filter all but 0.003 percent of visible light and block out most ultraviolet and infrared too!
True Eclipse rated Solar Shades will have the ISO 12312-2 stamp and are inexpensive and disposable and should only be purchased from a reputable vendor.
Limit continuous use of the Eclipse-Safe Shades to under three minutes, and always directly supervise children during their use.
If you normally wear eyeglasses, keep them on and simply place your eclipse viewer or eclipse glasses over or in front of them.
We know there’s a dark side of the moon, I have often explained to my patients that this is a ‘dark side of the sun’!
The sun’s bright, looking at it, not so much.
A solar eclipse is one of nature’s greatest spectacles – follow these simple rules and you will safely enjoy the view and be rewarded with memories that last a lifetime, not a blind spot that too, can last a lifetime!