Protect Your Eyes During the 2017 Solar Eclipse

Hello, and welcome back to the Round Rock Eye Consultants blog. On Monday, August 21, a total solar eclipse will be visible within a band that stretches across the entire United States for the first time since February 1979. People across the nation will be flocking to prime viewing locations to witness this incredible solar phenomenon in person. While the total phase of the eclipse will not visible here in Austin, it can still be observed as a partial solar eclipse. Although this is a very exciting event, it raises concern for those of us in the eye care profession. Looking directly at the sun’s rays is never safe; however, viewing a solar eclipse during the partial phase without the proper protection is very dangerous and can seriously damage your eyes, and may even cause blindness. In today’s blog post, we will discuss viewing approaches to avoid, and we will explore several ways to maintain your eye safety while viewing the solar eclipse.

How Not to Watch the Solar Eclipse

According to NASA, the only time it is safe to view a solar eclipse is during “totality”—during the total phase when the moon completely blocks out the sun, and the sun’s brightness is similar to that of a full moon. Otherwise, the sun is dangerously bright and can seriously damage your eyes. Avoid these approaches when watching the eclipse:

  • Ordinary Sunglasses: Some might think that sunglasses, even those with powerful UV protection, might protect their eyes during the partial eclipse—this is false! Unfortunately, sunglasses of any kind do not provide the necessary protection required to shelter your eyes during the partial phase of the eclipse.

  • Homemade Filters: In the age of DIY, many people assume they can create their own viewing apparatus, which is a dangerous gamble.

  • Viewing Devices: Avoid looking at the uneclipsed, or partially eclipsed, sun through a telescope, binoculars, an unfiltered camera, or other optical devices.


Take a Safe Approach Instead

Taking a safe approach to viewing the solar eclipse can save your eyes. Eclipse glasses and projectors are the best viewing option.

  • Eclipse Glasses & Projectors: Local grocers, natural history museums, and science centers often provide eclipse glasses and build-your-own projector boxes that allow you to safely view the entire solar eclipse. Rather than making your own eclipse viewers, you can also check out this list of reputable vendors for solar viewers and eclipse sunglasses from the American Astronomical Society.

  • Solar Filters: While many optical devices feature solar filters, it’s best to do your research before using these to view the solar eclipse. Always inspect your solar filter for scratches or damage; dispose of the filter if it is damaged in any way.

  • Child Supervision: If watching the eclipse with children, keep them under constant supervision. For very young children, it’s best to keep them indoors and away from windows to avoid accidental eye exposure during the partial phase.

Schedule an Eye Exam

We want you to enjoy this incredible phenomenon in the safest way possible in order to protect your vision health. If after viewing the solar eclipse you experience any eye discomfort or notice any vision issues, call us at Round Rock Eye Consultants immediately to schedule an eye exam with Dr. Joseph Meyer, our award-winning eye doctor. If you have any vision questions or would like to schedule a routine eye exam, please call us to request an appointment.