Upcoming solar eclipse prompts concern over eye safety

St. Louis, MO – August 21, 2017 is a thrilling occasion for American skywatchers, as they will be treated to the first solar eclipse visible from the continental United States in nearly four decades, says a press release sent out by St. Louis County Health Department officials.

As excitement for the event grows and crowds flock to the St. Louis area to view the celestial sight, concern over proper eye safety has become an active topic of conversation. With many misconceptions over how to safely enjoy the solar eclipse, the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health has outlined several health and safety tips.

“There have been rumors that it is safe to view the solar eclipse using regular polarized sunglasses, movie theater 3D glasses, or smartphone cameras,” said Dr. Faisal Khan, director of the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health. “These mediums are not designed for solar filtering and allow too much sunlight to filter through. Viewing the sun like this can result in permanent eye damage. It is important that everyone use recommended eyewear when watching the eclipse.”

For those planning to view the eclipse, the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health advises the following:

 Only wear special-purpose solar filters such as eclipse glasses that are compliant with the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard.
 Always inspect your solar filter before use; if scratched or damaged, discard it. Read and follow any instructions printed on or packaged with the filter.
 Always supervise children using solar filters.
 Stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer before looking
up at the bright sun. After looking at the sun, turn away and remove your filter — do not
remove it while looking at the sun.
 Do not look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera,
telescope, binoculars, or other optical device.
 Similarly, do not look at the sun through a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other
optical device while using your eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewer — the concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter your eye(s), causing serious injury.
 If you are within the path of totality, remove your solar filter only when the moon completely covers the sun’s bright face and it suddenly gets quite dark. Experience totality, then, as soon as the bright sun begins to reappear, replace your solar viewer to look at the remaining partial phases.
 Outside the path of totality, you must always use a safe solar filter to view the sun directly.
 If you normally wear eyeglasses, keep them on. Put your eclipse glasses on over them, or hold your handheld viewer in front of them.
In addition, if individuals discover any noticeable change in vision following solar eclipse viewing, it is recommended that they call their primary care physician immediately. By following these safety precautions, solar eclipse viewers can both protect their health and gain memories that will last a lifetime.

For additional information on solar eclipse safety, visit:
eclipse2017.nasa.gov/safety
For information on reputable vendors of solar viewers, visit:
eclipse.aas.org/resources/solar-filters
For directions on how to view the solar eclipse indirectly, visit:
solar-center.stanford.edu/observe/

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