From your health and wellness experts at Prisma Health
Safety
August 11, 2017

Protect your vision if viewing total solar eclipse

Mark Robinson, MD
Palmetto Health-USC Ophthalmology
Columbia will be home to the longest total solar eclipse for a metro area on the East Coast Monday, Aug. 21. Residents and visitors will be drawn to view this rare celestial event. More than a million people in South Carolina potentially could view the total solar eclipse. Palmetto Health-USC Ophthalmology wants to encourage community members to protect their vision if viewing the total solar eclipse. Physicians want everyone who will witness this celestial event to do so safely. 

“Taking precautions is necessary because watching the eclipse without proper eye protection can have long-term harmful effects on your eyes,” said Mark Robinson, MD, Palmetto Health-USC Ophthalmology. “Looking directly at the sun can be very harmful to the eyes under any circumstances but especially during the eclipse.”

Palmetto Health-USC Ophthalmology offers the following tips to help you and your family experience it as safely as possible:
  • Homemade filters and ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are NOT safe for looking at the sun. Use special-purpose solar filters, such as eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewers, to view the eclipse. Recommendations for eyewear may be found at websites for NASA or the American Astronomical Society.
  • If you have solar filters for your eyewear, binoculars or camera, inspect them before use. Any damage to the filter lens, including scratches, can make the filter unsafe for use. Only use solar filters specifically designed for binoculars or telescopes because the regular filters may not protect against the magnification effects of the telescopic lenses. 
  • Looking directly into the sun is unsafe, except during the brief time the moon completely blocks the sun. Do not look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun without the use of appropriately approved protection or filters. 
  • Even with appropriately certified solar shields, we do not recommend looking at the sun for more than a few seconds or at unnecessary times (when there is no solar eclipse). 
  • It is very important for parents to closely supervise children during the eclipse.
  • If children have access to solar shields, they may look at the sun at other times without their parents’ knowledge. It is best to keep the appropriate eyewear in a safe place until the day of the eclipse and then dispose of them afterward.
  • During the eclipse, stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer before looking up at the bright sun. After glancing at the sun, turn away and remove your filter. Be mindful not to remove your filter while looking at the sun.
  • Only remove your solar filter when the moon completely covers the sun and it gets dark.
  • As soon as the sun begins to reappear, put your solar filter back on.
 

For more information about Palmetto Health-USC Ophthalmology, visit their website. 

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