Solar Eclipse Eye Safety Suggestions

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A solar eclipse is an exciting and rare astrological event that can spark a life-long interest in science and astronomy for children!

While many parents are aware that viewing an eclipse directly will pose risk to their child’s eyes (even permanent vision loss), there is a lot of other information surrounding the eclipse that can be difficult to sort through.

A solar eclipse is a once in a lifetime event, so here is some insider knowledge about how to view the event safely.

Five eye safety tips to keep in mind when preparing to view the solar eclipse with your family:

  1. Looking directly at the sun with the naked eye or even with regular sunglasses can cause serious, permanent damage to retinal tissue (the light-sensitive lining inside of the eye). The only safe way to view any type of eclipse is with special-purpose solar filters or other ISO-certified filters. Even a few seconds of direct exposure is enough to potentially burn the retina and cause vision loss (even partial blindness)
  2. Solar glasses should be modified for small faces with elastic or tape so they stay on young children. Remind them to keep their glasses on at all times while looking at the eclipse!
  3. There is only one time where it is safe to look without glasses, and that’s when the moon is blocking the sun completely (a total eclipse). However, if even a small sliver of the sun is visible, it is very dangerous. Most of the United States will experience a partial solar eclipse, so it’s best to wear protective vision gear for the whole event.
  4. Other safe viewing strategies include watching through a telescope with a special, certified solar filter, or making a projection of the partially eclipsed sun with a simple pinhole projection.
  5. Choose your observation location in advance and practice safely observing the sun using the same observation techniques you will use during the event. It’s important for children to gain familiarity with the process and how to use the aids safely before the excitement of the actual event.

Throughout the eclipse, encourage children to talk about the experience by asking them questions about what they’re seeing and feeling! It’s also good to remind them to share their observations afterwards with their friends and teachers.

For more information about the solar eclipse, visit NASA’s Eclipse 2017 webpage.

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