solar eclipse Santa monicaThe Great American Solar Eclipse will occur on Monday, April 8, 2024, and is expected to draw millions of spectators worldwide. Santa Monica and Los Angeles will not see a full solar eclipse, but even a partial eclipse, which will be visible, will be fun to witness. While observing this celestial spectacle, it’s crucial to prioritize eye safety to avoid potential damage to your vision. Here is how to protect your eyes during a solar eclipse. 


Understanding the Risks

Looking directly at the sun, even during a partial eclipse, can cause permanent eye damage and vision loss. Solar maculopathy is a condition that occurs from looking directly at the sun without sun protection. Solar maculopathy is a sunburn in the back of your eye that can drastically affect your vision. Unfortunately, there is no effective way to treat solar maculopathy, so the damage to vision is often irreversible and cannot be corrected with glasses, contact lenses, or surgery. 

Safe Viewing Practices 

Fortunately, there are several safe methods for observing a solar eclipse without risking eye damage:

    • Solar Eclipse Glasses: Invest in a pair of eclipse glasses certified to meet the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard. These specialized glasses are designed to block harmful UV rays and intense sunlight, allowing you to view the eclipse safely. Ensure that your glasses are not scratched or damaged, which can compromise their effectiveness. Note that your sunglasses are NOT enough and that, in the past, people have lost vision due to counterfeit eclipse glasses.  

    • Pinhole Projector: Create a simple pinhole projector using cardboard or a similar material. Poke a small hole in one piece of cardboard and hold it between the sun and a second piece of cardboard, allowing the sunlight to pass through the pinhole and project an image of the eclipse onto the second surface. This indirect method allows you to view the eclipse without looking directly at the sun.

    • Solar Filters: If you have a telescope, camera, or binoculars, never look through them at the sun without a proper solar filter. Regular sunglasses or improvised filters are not sufficient to protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays. Use a reputable solar filter specifically designed for solar observation and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
    • Watch at Home: NASA and other organizations will be broadcasting excellent, safe-to-view videos of the solar eclipse. You do not need to use eclipse glasses to view the eclipse on your digital device. 

Be a Sight-Saving Hero 

Spread awareness about solar eclipse eye safety to friends, family, and community members. Many people may be unaware of the risks associated with direct sun exposure during an eclipse. Encourage others to use certified eclipse glasses or alternative safe viewing methods to protect their vision. Your words and actions may help someone save their vision by practicing solar eclipse safety. 

What to Avoid

Avoid the following unsafe practices during a solar eclipse:

No Unprotected Viewing: Never look directly at the sun without adequate eye protection, including sunglasses or homemade filters. Doing so can cause irreversible damage to your eyesight.

Avoid Unsafe Filters: Do not use regular sunglasses, smoked glass, or other improvised filters to view the sun during an eclipse. These materials do not provide sufficient protection against harmful UV radiation.

Cameras and Binoculars: Refrain from looking through cameras, binoculars, or telescopes at the sun without proper solar filters. The concentrated sunlight can quickly damage the optics and cause eye injury.

If Something Goes Wrong

If you accidentally look up during an eclipse, look away as soon as possible. If you feel that your vision is blurry or changed in any way after looking at the sun even if you think you used the correct eye protection method, visit your Santa Monica (or most local) optometrist for a comprehensive eye exam.

Don’t let the sun be the last thing you see clearly. While witnessing a solar eclipse is an unforgettable experience, it’s essential to prioritize eye safety to avoid potential harm. By following safe viewing practices and educating others about the risks, you can enjoy the celestial event without compromising your vision. Remember, when it comes to solar eclipses, protect your eyes, and tell your friends

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