Be safe!! Solar eclipse August 21st

August 21, 2017

There is great excitement surrounding the upcoming solar eclipse, when the moon blocks any part of the sun. On Monday, a solar eclipse will be visible (weather permitting) across all of North America.

Unlike most eclipses, the whole continent will experience this eclipse, at least partially.

Although this is a golden opportunity to observe one of nature’s most interesting splendors, local optometrist Dr. Kelly Riley recommends doing so only with the proper safety equipment to enjoy nature’s spectacle while preventing damage to your eyes.

“The first rule is the one we learned as children and that is to never look directly at the sun — even during an eclipse — with the naked eye,” she told the Brownfield News. “We all remember using a magnifying glass to amplify the sun’s rays on the ground. Well part of our eyeball has that same effect and can magnify the sun’s light into the back of the eye and cause severe damage.”

Even NASA scientists are reminding Americans to never look directly at the sun without special solar filters.

That does not include common sunglasses, Dr. Riley warned.

“Even if they block UV, no matter how dark they are, they will still let harmful rays pass through,” she said. “And I am talking about permanent eye damage called solar retinopothy that cannot be corrected with eyeglasses or even surgery.”

The advice is particularly important for Terry County residents who plan to view the eclipse, because our location will not afford a view of the sun fully covered by the moon.

A majority of the United States, including the Brownfield area, will experience a partial eclipse beginning at 11:29 a.m. and lasting just shy of three hours.

During this time, special certified solar eclipse viewing glasses should remain on at all times when looking at the sun.

“The other thing that could happen is you could have what is known as photopic karatitis,” Dr. Riley said. “That is essentially a welder’s burn — like a sunburn on the eye — that is temporary, but still not a good thing.”

The only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through these special-purpose solar filters. You should use certified solar eclipse viewing glasses or certified hand-held solar viewers. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the sun. 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 glancing at the sun, turn away and remove your filter — do not remove it while looking at the sun.

Experts also advise residents not to look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars, or other optical device.

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