April 5, 2024/Daily Health Stories

Protecting your Eyes during the Solar Eclipse

On Monday, millions of people will look up at the sky in awe as they witness a total solar eclipse. An ophthalmologist explains how to protect your eyes when viewing this rare phenomenon.

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CLEVELAND - On Monday, millions of people will look up at the sky in awe as they witness a total solar eclipse.

But looking at this rare phenomenon may lead to lifelong damage if you’re not wearing the proper eye protection.

“It’s recommended to use eclipse glasses that are compliant with the ISO 12312-2 international standard for filters to view the sun directly,” explained Nicole Bajic, MD, surgical ophthalmologist with Cleveland Clinic. “Even though this is an exciting and rare event, you don’t want to damage your vision for the rest of your life by not protecting your eyes.”

Dr. Bajic said looking directly at the sun without eclipse glasses can lead to temporary or even permanent vision loss.

She stresses it’s important to have your eye protection on before looking at the sun.

Only those in what’s called the path of totality can briefly take off their eclipse glasses when the moon is completely blocking the sun. You must put the glasses back on as soon as you start to see the sun again.

Since those outside the path of totality will only be viewing a partial solar eclipse, they must wear their special glasses the entire time. That’s because the moon doesn’t completely block the sun at any point during a partial eclipse.

“It's really important to know whether you’re in the path of totality or not. If you're not, you must wear proper eye protection the entire time,” Dr. Bajic said. “There is never a safe time to take off the glasses during a partial solar eclipse.”

If you look at the sun directly without protection, Dr. Bajic said you may experience symptoms such as blurred vision or blind spots.

It’s important to follow up with an eye doctor if you develop any vision changes.

Dr. Bajic adds children are more at risk for eye damage from looking at the sun directly without protection, so make sure they’re properly wearing eclipse glasses as well.

Editor’s Note: Two social videos are available to embed in web stories of Dr. Bajic going over eclipse safety tips. Please find links to the videos below.

Video 1: How To Protect Your Eyes When Viewing the Total Solar Eclipse
YouTube: https://youtu.be/yZrBl6kzWtI?si=U0ktjg3wg6zUpVIA
X: https://twitter.com/ClevelandClinic/status/1766087144303661392
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/reel/C4QYjumgt2r/
TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@clevelandclinic/video/7343738120648838446

Video 2: Why You Need To Protect Your Eyes When Viewing Total Solar Eclipse
YouTube: https://youtu.be/mqDSBLuivDQ?si=s0FM9HJBVvqfIF0F

About Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. Cleveland Clinic is consistently recognized in the U.S. and throughout the world for its expertise and care. Among Cleveland Clinic’s 81,000 employees worldwide are more than 5,743 salaried physicians and researchers, and 20,160 registered nurses and advanced practice providers, representing 140 medical specialties and subspecialties. Cleveland Clinic is a 6,690-bed health system that includes a 173-acre main campus near downtown Cleveland, 23 hospitals, 276 outpatient facilities, including locations in northeast Ohio; Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; Toronto, Canada; Abu Dhabi, UAE; and London, England. In 2023, there were 13.7 million outpatient encounters, 323,000 hospital admissions and observations, and 301,000 surgeries and procedures throughout Cleveland Clinic’s health system. Patients came for treatment from every state and 132 countries. Visit us at clevelandclinic.org. Follow us at twitter.com/CleClinicNews. News and resources available at newsroom.clevelandclinic.org.

Editor’s Note: Cleveland Clinic News Service is available to provide broadcast-quality interviews and B-roll upon request.

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