Protect Your Eyes from the Solar Eclipse

Aug 16, 2017

New York

picture of solar eclipse

Dr. Chris Starr of NewYork-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medicine discusses the top things to keep in mind if you are viewing the solar eclipse:

Dr. Starr

1) It is always dangerous to look at the sun without eye protection.

If you happen to be in the narrow zone of totality which stretches from Oregon to South Carolina, there will be a brief period lasting about 2 minutes during which the sun will be completely eclipsed. It is then and only then that protective eyewear can be removed and the eclipse viewed with the naked eye. New York City will witness only a 70% eclipse at its greatest extent and therefore anyone viewing it should keep their eyes protected the entire time. 

2) There are a few ways to view the sun and the eclipse safely.

The easiest way to view the eclipse directly is with Eclipse Glasses which meet ISO-12312-2 certification. There are several reputable vendors recommended by NASA and others (online). The eclipse glasses should have the ISO certification written on them; using any other glasses could result in severe injury and even blindness. If the lenses are scratched, wrinkled or older than 3 years, then don’t use them.

3) Try a pinhole viewer.

A simple viewer can be made by taking one piece of white card stock and poking a hole in the center of it with a pin or paper clip. Holding this up to the sun will project an indirect image of the sun on a second piece of white card stock, resting on the ground or being held behind it, ideally in a shadow for greater contrast. There are more sophisticated methods for making pinhole viewers that can be found online, but this simple method works well. NASA has provided specific instructions on this project here:

4) The ISO-certified glasses are over 1000 times stronger than the typical pair of sunglasses we all have.

Stacking several pairs of sunglasses over your eyes will definitely not provide sufficient protection.

5) Children’s eyes are much more vulnerable to sun damage.

Eye protection is even more critical for children. Young kids must be supervised closely by an adult during eclipse viewing and should be extra cautious about wearing protective eyewear.

To arrange an interview with Dr. Christopher Starr, please call 212-821-0560 or email [email protected].

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