6 Ways to Watch the Eclipse and Protect Your Vision

11:05 AM, Aug 17, 2017

With the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21 so close, now is the perfect time to get ready to view this once-in-a-lifetime event. This is the first eclipse viewable in the contiguous United States since 1979, and the first total eclipse to cut across the lower 48 since 1918.

More than 500 million people across North America will be able to at least see a partial eclipse. For those lucky enough to live in the 70-mile band from Oregon to South Carolina, a total eclipse can be seen.

We spoke to experts at Montana Eyecare to find some ways to view this unique phenomenon safely. Here are 6 tips:

1. You still can’t look directly at the sun

You should never look directly at a partial eclipse. In other words, if any portion of the sun is visible – even if it’s just a crescent – you’ll need to use some kind of eye protection. This is true even if you’re using binoculars or a telescope, unless you’ve purchased a solar shield, which will provide eye protection.

So, everyone must view the partially eclipsed sun through eclipse glasses or viewers that meet ISO 12312-2 international standards, or through devices such as pinhole projectors.

2. Make sure your solar filters are legit

According to NASA four manufacturers have certified solar filters to meet international standards: Rainbow Symphony, American Paper Optics, Thousand Oaks Optical and Tse 17.

Look for the phrase “ISO 12312-2” printed somewhere on the glasses. But be careful – there are many counterfeit eclipse glasses out there labeled as if they’re ISO-compliant. One of the best ways to ensure your glasses are safe is to consult an eye care expert.

3. You can also use a pinhole camera to view the eclipse

Here’s an alternative to solar filters: NASA suggests using pinhole projection to safely view a partial eclipse without filters. To do this, “cross the outstretched, slightly open fingers of one hand over the outstretched, slightly open fingers of the other. With your back to the sun, look at your hands’ shadow on the ground. The little spaces between your fingers will project a grid of small images on the ground, showing the sun as a crescent during the partial phases of the eclipse.”

4. Look with your naked eyes only during the totality

When watching the eclipse it is important to wear solar filters as eye protection until the eclipse reaches totality. During a total eclipse, viewers may remove filters. As the moon moves past the sun to a partial eclipse, wear eye protection once again.

5. Don’t forget to take care of the rest of your body

The entire eclipse experience – from partial to total to partial again – can take several hours. Don’t forget to stay hydrated and have plenty of snacks on hand for a comfortable viewing experience. Also, because the eclipse takes place in the summer heat, be sure to wear sunscreen and bug repellant.

6. Watch children closely during the event

On the big day, don’t just give your child a filter and not supervise them. Children need to be watched to make sure they are using the filters correctly to protect their eyes.

If you have any questions about your eyes and the eclipse, or if you’d like to schedule an eye exam, the team at Montana Eyecare is dedicated to preventive maintenance to guarantee your visual well-being.

Call 406-443-2121 to set up an appointment or visit MontanaEyecare.com for more information.

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