A solar eclipse doesn't happen often, and it's a great scientific wonder to witness. However, as an eye care professional, I do have concerns that your eyes are protected during the event. I'm especially concerned about children who's natural curiosity might lead them to view the eclipse without proper eye protection or who use eclipse glasses improperly. Here are some tips to safely enjoy the solar eclipse this coming Monday.
1) A safe way to enjoy the eclipse is indirectly using the pinhole method. Remember you are not looking at the eclipse through the pinhole. Your back will be towards the sun, and you will be projecting an image of the eclipse on a white backdrop. I can assure you this is a fun and great way to enjoy the eclipse. Check out the pic of my own kiddo enjoying the shadow of an eclipse back in 2012.
2) If you are directly viewing the eclipse, please make sure the eclipse glasses were obtained from a reputable source. DO NOT use sunglasses or stack multiple pairs of sunglasses or polarized filters to directly view the sun, (eclipsed or not). Eclipse glasses or viewers must be compliant with the ISO 12312-2 safety standard. We are not in the path of totality here in the Cleveland area, so there is no safe time to peek at the eclipse without proper viewing glasses.
3) Directly viewing the eclipse in large groups involving children may make it difficult to ensure proper use of solar eclipse glasses. Also, part of the eclipse may be occurring during dismissal time for many schools. Please reinforce with children to not look directly at the eclipse with unprotected eyes, even for a few seconds. With direct unprotected viewing of the sun, the lens of the eye will focus the sun's energy onto our delicate retina and fry our central vision with as little as 25 seconds of cumulative exposure. PERMANENT damage to your vision is possible when staring at the sun. The sun is not stronger during an eclipse. It is just more "possible" to look at it due to part of it being blocked by the moon. Normally the sun is too bright to look at and causes pain so humans don't do it. If there's any doubt of a child's or even an adult's proper use of eclipse glasses, please refrain from direct viewing and enjoy the eclipse using an alternative indirect method such as the pinhole method or on TV.
Symptoms of sun damage to the eye may not be realized immediately. If you should experience discomfort or vision problems following the eclipse, please do not hesitate contacting your eye care professional and getting your comprehensive eye examination.