Solar eclipse eye safety

Published 2:36 pm Friday, July 21, 2017

On August 21, many of us living in western North Carolina will have the rare opportunity to see a full solar eclipse. A total solar eclipse occurs when the sun is completely blocked by the moon.  Daylight turns into a deep twilight sky and a truly beautiful scene occurs as you are able to see the sun’s corona, or the outer atmosphere of the sun. Many stars and planets become more visible during this phenomenon, while the sun appears to look like a halo in the sky. 

As we enjoy one of nature’s truly magnificent events, we must be careful to protect our eyes from sun damage. The eclipse will be gorgeous, but it is important to remember that the sun is quite intense and unprotected viewing can lead to permanent damage to our eyes. Staring at the sun for even a short amount of time can cause permanent damage to our retinas. 

As we view the eclipse, follow these important precautions:

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• Do not look at the sun directly without sun viewing glasses. During the brief full coverage of the sun (totality) it is possible to look directly at the sun safely without glasses, but before and after the totality protective sun viewing glasses must be worn.

• Do not look at the sun using regular sunglasses, cameras, telescopes, or other optical devices. Permanent eye damage or blindness can occur in seconds!

• Use glasses designed specifically for sun viewing before and after the totality. Four companies that sell sun viewing glasses that meet the international standard (ISO 12312-2) recommended by NASA, the AAS and other scientific organizations are Rainbow Symphony, American Paper Optics, Thousand Oaks Optical and TSE 17.

• For further information about the eclipse and safe viewing, visit

Please join us to participate in the Polk County Solar Eclipse Viewing Party. This celebration will be held at Harmon Field on 8/21/17, from 11 a.m. -3 p.m. It will include music, food, crafts and activities themed around the solar system. Let’s enjoy nature’s spectacle safely and take home only good memories. The next solar eclipse that will viewable from the United States won’t occur until April 18, 2024.

– article submitted by Robert I. Park, MD