Eye Health Tips Hospital blogs

The wait is over – the solar eclipse is happening today! Are you prepared to watch it safely?

Written by Rubul Thind

Dr. Kenneth Eng is the Chief of Department of the Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. He shares his insights about what we need to know about the solar eclipse and how to keep your eyes safe.

What damage can looking directly at the solar eclipse cause to the eyes?

“Looking at the sun directly is never a safe thing to do as it can cause permanent damage to the retina called solar retinopathy,” says Dr. Eng. “This can cause permanent blindness in one or both eyes.

What should someone do if they don’t have the special protective eyewear to watch the eclipse? Are there are any specifications people should look for when it comes to protective eyewear to watch the eclipse?

“The only way to avoid the risk of damage to the eyes is to wear approved, special-purpose glasses, also known as solar filters,” Dr. Eng says. “Approved glasses meet a special international standard that is called ISO 12312-2.

Visit the  American Astronomical Society for more information on approved glasses.

According to Dr. Eng, very dark sunglasses, homemade filters, squinting, or looking through a tinted window are not safe methods to look at the sun.

For those without access to approved eclipse glasses, the other options to view the eclipse include using a pinhole projector or watching the livestream of the eclipse. These options are safe and can be just as exciting!

Can someone watch the solar eclipse if they have pre-existing eye health concerns?

“As long as the eclipse glasses or solar filters are used, a person with pre-existing eye condition can still safely enjoy watching the solar eclipse.”, says Dr. Eng.

The key takeaway is that yes – today’s solar eclipse is a rare and exciting experience, but make sure you keep your eyes safe!

About the author

Rubul Thind