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The April 8, 2024 Solar Eclipse: Eye Safety Tips

On April 8, 2024, a total solar eclipse will cross North America, passing over Mexico, the United States, and Canada. According to NASA, “A total solar eclipse happens when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth, completely blocking the face of the Sun. The sky will darken as if it were dawn or dusk.” For the many people who plan to view this unusual spectacle, it’s important to keep safety in mind. Unprotected exposure to the sun can cause retinal burns, or “solar retinopathy.” This damage, which may be temporary or permanent, can include loss of central vision, distorted vision, or altered color vision. It is not safe to look directly at the sun without “specialized eye protection for solar viewing,” except during the brief “total” phase of a total solar eclipse. Following are a few pointers for safe eclipse viewing:

  • Use safe solar viewing glasses (“eclipse glasses”) or a safe, handheld solar viewer. These glasses must meet safety requirements and are “expert approved,” with labeling indicating that they were manufactured with the ISO 12312-2 standard. Be sure to purchase them from “a trusted source.”
  • Inspect the specialized glasses or handheld viewer, looking for tears, scratches, or other damages. Discard if damaged.
  • DO NOT look at the sun through optical devices such as a camera lens, telescope, binoculars, or other equipment.
  • An indirect viewing method is another alternative. One way is to use a “pinhole projector,” with a small opening that projects the sun’s image on a surface nearby. With the sun behind you, viewing the pinhole can be safe. Do NOT look at the sun through the pinhole.

To learn more about the upcoming eclipse and safe viewing advice, read the NASA webpage on Total Solar Eclipse Safety and the Prevent Blindness webpage on Solar Eclipses Eye Safety: Protect Your Eyes from the Sun!  Additional informational items, such as free fact sheets, an eNewsletter, an educational video on safe viewing, and other online resources are included in the News piece announcing that Prevent Blindness Encourages Eye Safety for Upcoming Total Solar Eclipse in April.