Bethlehem Press

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Some do’s & don’ts for viewing Monday’s total solar eclipse

Tuesday, August 15, 2017 by Dr. Linda Chous Special to the Bethlehem Press in Local News

The first total eclipse to span coast to coast across the U.S. mainland in almost a century will be visible on Monday, Aug. 21. For people in Pennsylvania, the eclipse coverage will reach over 75 percent.

This rare celestial event is a spectacular occurrence; however, there are precautions people should take to help maintain their eye health while witnessing the spectacle in its full glory. Looking at a solar eclipse without proper protection can cause serious eye damage, including blurry vision that can last months, or even permanent problems.

The most important tip is to have proper eclipse-viewing glasses, which are heavily tinted – much more so than regular sunglasses – to protect your eyes as you look at the sun. Certified eclipse-viewing glasses will enable you to see the moon track across the orb of the sun until it creates a total eclipse, revealing the sun’s brilliant corona.

While anyone within a roughly 70-mile-wide path from Oregon to South Carolina will be able to experience a total solar eclipse for about 2 minutes, Pennsylvania residents will only witness a partial eclipse, meaning the sun will not be completely blocked in our region.

For this reason, here are must know do’s and don’ts for those planning to watch the solar eclipse:

Don’t look directly at the sun: Even though the moon will block all or part of the sun for just a few minutes, we should never look directly at the sun.

Do wear certified solar eclipse viewing glasses: Solar eclipse viewing glasses will not only protect your eyes, but they will allow you to see the moon track across the orb of the sun until it creates a total eclipse, revealing the sun’s brilliant corona.

Don’t wear sun glasses or buy fake viewing glasses: Sun glasses will not offer a dark enough tint to protect your eyes and beware of people selling glasses that don’t block enough UV and infrared. Be sure to check the list of approved vendors selling certified viewers.

Don’t wear the glasses while trying to take picture: Medical experts recommend that you do not look at the sun through a camera, telescope, binoculars or any other optical device while using eclipse glasses. The concentrated solar rays can damage the filter, enter the eyes and cause serious injury.

Do visit the eye doctor if you feel discomfort: If you’re experiencing any problems with your eyes or vision after viewing the solar eclipse, be sure to see a eye care professional for a comprehensive exam.

The upcoming solar eclipse should be a fun and educational opportunity as long as you take the necessary precautions. If you miss this spectacle, the next time a total solar eclipse will traverse the entire U.S. mainland will be on August 12, 2045.

Dr. Linda Chous is chief eye care fficer for UnitedHealthcare.