Total Eclipse of the Sun | What You Should Know

Solar Eclipse | Protecting Your Vision | Burlington County Eye PhysiciansThe Great American Eclipse 2017 is fast upon us.  Are you ready?  Here are some quick tips to make sure your experience is “once in a lifetime.”

Despite the significance of the event, we want you to protect your eyes and view the event as safely as possible.

Prevent Solar Retinopathy

Directly staring at the sun, or a solar eclipse, can cause solar retinopathy.  Solar retinopathy can cause permanent loss of vision.  The sun’s ultraviolet rays are so strong, the rods and cones of your retina can be damaged.

Permanent damage can occur.

Symptoms of Solar Retinopathy

Solar retinopathy can be causeed without pain.  Here are some symptoms of solar retinopathy:

  • Blurry vision
  • Distorted vision
  • Pain when looking at bright light
  • Tearing
  • Blind spots
  • Redness with bright light
  • Decreased color vision
  • Both eyes

Solar retinopathy can be permanent.  There is no treatment.

ISO Filters Protect – Sunglasses Do Not

ISO filters (specifically ISO 12312-2) are compliant with the safety standards established to safely view the sun or eclipse without causing eye damage.  ISO filters are 1000s of times stronger than any pair of sunglasses.  Eclipse glasses and solar viewers have ISO filters.

Sunglasses of any sort do not offer protection from the sun or a total eclipse.

Store bought sunglasses, prescription sunglasses, expensive boutique (Prada, Ray-Ban), post-cataract or post-LASIK glasses offer absolutely no protection from the upcoming solar event.

Using multiple pairs of sunglasses is no good at preventing damage.

Pennsylvania and New Jersey Not Path of Totality

The path of totality is the 70 mile wide path which will travel across the United States from Oregon to South Carolina.  Only viewers in the path of totality will experience a total eclipse of the sun when the sun’s light is completely blocked by the moon.

Path of Totality | Solar Eclipse | Burlington County Eye PhysiciansNew Jersey and Pennsylvania are not within the path of totality (see map).

The only time to safely and directly look at the sun is within the path of totality when the sun is totally blocked (i.e. there is no light to harm you) for the predicted 2 minutes and 40 seconds.

Here’s an eclipse map of the United States.  Unless you live in or have travelled to the path, you will experience varying amounts of a partial eclipse.  

Those experiencing a partial eclipse are more likely to have their vision damaged as the sun is never completely blocked.

Here’s a link to various eclipse maps.

Children are at Most Risk for Eye Damage

Childrens’ eyes dilate better in the dark, that is, their pupils are larger and allow more light to enter the eye.  In addition, children do not have cataracts.  Cataracts can absorb some of the damaging ultraviolet light.

Children are also more apt to look directly at the sun without knowing the potential dangers of gazing at the sun.

Pinhole Camera is Best

Encourage your children to use an indirect method of viewing the eclipse.  A pinhole camera, kitchen colander or even criss-crossing your hands are indirect ways of viewing the event.

Make sure NOT TO FACE the sun.  With the sun at your back, shine the sunlight through a pinhole, hole in a colander or through your hands onto a white piece of paper.  You can now see an indirect image of the eclipse.

Indirectly viewing the sun is the safest way to avoid eye damage.

We hope you enjoy the upcoming “once in a lifetime” event.  We urge you to share this article with your friends and relatives to make sure everyone views this astronomical event safely.

Call us to make an appointment or Email Us!!

We look forward to seeing you.

Gregory Scimeca, M.D.
Ophthalmologist and Medical Director

Burlington County Eye Physicians
Eye Professionals, LLC (Millville, NJ)
Eye Physicians and Surgeons of Bucks County (Langhorne, PA)