On Aug. 21, sky gazers across the country will be treated to the sight of a total solar eclipse – a once-in-a-lifetime event where the moon passes between the sun and Earth, blocking the sun’s light for a brief period.
This awesome event is cause for excitement – and caution. Staring at the sun without protection – even briefly – can severely damage your eyes, so it’s important to know how to view the eclipse safely.
Here are some tips.
Get special glasses – and beware of fakes
Regular sunglasses will not protect your eyes while looking at the eclipse.
Thankfully, inexpensive special eclipse glasses are available that provide protection while still allowing you to watch the event. Beware, however, of glasses that are marketed as safe for the eclipse, but do not meet NASA’s recommended guidelines.
NASA advises you to only purchase eclipse glasses that are made by American Paper Optics, Rainbow Symphony, Thousand Oaks Optical or TSE 17 and also have the international safety standard ISO 12312-2 printed on them.
Find out if you’re in the path of totality
Although everyone in the continental United States will be able to see some part of the eclipse, only residents along a select path will be able to see the eclipse in totality – or the moment when the sun is completely covered by the moon.
This 70-mile-wide path stretches from the Pacific Northwest to the Southeast and includes portions of Western Kentucky. During the moment of totality, which may last for less than a minute in some locations, it is safe to view the the eclipse without glasses.
For those of us outside of the path of totality, however, glasses must be worn at all times. To see a map of the eclipse’s path of totality, visit NASA’s Eclipse 101 guide.
Follow these tips for a fun, safe viewing
No matter where you’re viewing the eclipse, keep these safety tips in mind:
- Keep a close eye on kids watching the eclipse, and make sure they’re wearing eclipse glasses at all times.
- Even if you’re wearing proper glasses, don’t view the eclipse through a camera, telescope or binoculars. The concentrated rays that comes through the optical device can damage the eclipse filter on your glasses and cause harm to your eyes.
- If you normally wear eyeglasses, keep them on. Put your eclipse glasses on over them.
- Look away from the sun when putting on and removing your eclipse glasses. Never take them off while looking at the sun.
- You know how to keep your eyes safe during the eclipse, but what about during regular time outside? Read eye care expert Dr. Shaista Vally’s tips for protecting your eyes and skin in the sun.
- Learn more about UK Advanced Eye Care, which provides comprehensive care for patients of all ages with eye and vision conditions.