Solar Eclipse Eye Safety

August 9, 2017

Here Comes the Eclipse!

Your eyes are key to experiencing the upcoming solar eclipse. Make sure you are keeping them safe. 

Are you counting the days to the solar eclipse? For many, the eclipse will be an event of a lifetime. Not since 1979 has there been a total solar eclipse that was visible from the continental U.S. And for the first time since 1918, the total eclipse will go coast-to-coast. As you prepare for August 21, it's important to be mindful of your eyes and know how to protect your vision. Looking directly at the sun for even a short period of time without wearing proper eye protection can cause serious and permanent retina damage. Follow these tips to safely plan for the big day.*
  • Using special-purpose solar filters is only one safe way to look directly at the sun during an eclipse. These solar filters are used in "eclipse glasses" or in hand-held solar viewers. They must meet a very specific worldwide standard known as ISO 12312-2.
  • Make sure your solar filters or viewers came from a NASA or American Astronomical Society-approved vendor.
  • Carefully look at your eclipse glasses before using them. If you see any scratches or damage, do not use them.
  • Always read and follow all directions that come with the solar filter or eclipse glasses. Help children to be sure they use viewers and eclipse glasses correctly.
  • If you normally wear eyeglasses, keep them on. Put your eclipse glasses on over them, or hold your handheld viewer in front of them.
  • Before looking up at the bright sun, stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer. After glancing at the sun, turn away and remove your filter-do not remove it while looking at the sun.
  • The only time that you can safely look at the sun without a solar viewer is during the total eclipse. When the moon completely covers the sun's face and it suddenly gets dark, you can remove your solar filter to watch this unique experience. As soon as the sun begins to reappear, even very slightly, immediately use your solar viewer again to watch the remaining partial phase of the eclipse.
  • Never look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars or other similar devices. This is important even if you are wearing eclipse glasses or holding a solar viewer at the same time. The intense solar rays coming through these devices will damage the solar filter and your eyes.

Practice these eye safety tips during the eclipse and enjoy your viewing experience!


American Academy of Ophthalmology


American Astronomical Society