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Your Eyes And The Solar Eclipse

Check you calendars!… If you haven’t yet heard… tomorrow, something big is happening! On Monday, August 21, 2017 a total solar eclipse is predicted to cross a path across the US! The best place to view the total eclipse is in the United States, but us Canadians will also be able to enjoy a partial eclipse from many locations as well. If you want fully enjoy this rare, “once in a lifetime” type event, you should make sure that you do so safely. Viewing a solar eclipse with no eye protection, or the wrong type of eye protection can be very harmful to your eyes. Not wearing the correct type of eye protection can cause serious damage to the eyes. Read our blog article, to learn how to watch the eclipse safely!

What Is A Total Solar Eclipse?

A total solar eclipse is an exciting event. Especially since, one hasn’t traveled coast-to-coast across the United States in almost 100 years! There has been many partial eclipses in the past. But, a total solar eclipse is particularly rare. A total solar eclipse happens when the moon travels in front of the sun at a specific distance. This causes the whole sun to be blocked out (called totality), casting a shadow onto the earth. For people located along the path of totality, for a very short period of time, day will turn to night! Tomorrow, Calgary isn’t in the path of totality. But given our location, we still have a pretty good vantage point to viewing the partial eclipse.

Why Do We Need To Protect Our Eyes During An Eclipse?

Well, now that we know why this eclipse is so awesome. We now need to know why it’s so important to protect our eyes when looking at it. For some people, the solar eclipse happening this Monday, is a once in a lifetime event. Because of this, it will be very tempting to watch it… However, it is extremely important to make sure you wear the right eye protection for viewing the eclipse. And unfortunately, your regular sunglasses aren’t going to do the job.

Most of us know that looking at the everyday sun with our naked eyes is not good. It is actually physically uncomfortable to do so. Often, our natural reaction to looking at the sun is to squint or turn away. The reason for this, is because the sun is too bright to look at. Harmful UV rays also accompanies bright blinding visible light. A shadow is cast on the earth during a solar eclipse. The shadow cancels out the majority of the bright, blinding rays of the sun. This makes the sun easier to look at. As a result, too much exposure can lead to eye damage.

How Looking At the Sun Or An Eclipse Can Cause Eye Damage?

Looking at the sun for an extended period of time can cause permanent damage to the eyes, this condition is called solar retinopathy. Solar retinopathy happens when bright light from the sun causes damage to the back of the eye (the retina). The retina contains a light sensitive layer (rods and cones) that is responsible for creating vision. This light-sensitive layer of rods and cones release a chemical when over-stimulated from too much light. A release of too much of this chemical can cause damage to the back of the eye. This damage can result in temporary to even permanent loss of vision.

Protect Your Eyes And Your Vision!

Wearing sunglasses during an eclipse aren’t enough to protect the eyes from damage. When viewing a solar eclipse,  special solar viewing eyeglasses or a solar viewer must be used!

Solar Glasses

Solar glasses are special sunglasses for viewing the sun. The pupil of the eye dilates (gets larger in size) during the eclipse. Because the pupil is larger, it allows more harmful light to reach the back of the eyes. Solar glasses are much darker than regular sunglasses to prevent damaging visible light from hitting the back of the eyes. The glasses for eclipse viewing,  must meet specific guidelines and have special certification. If you have a pair of solar glasses and want to know if yours meet standards, click the link to read about what to look for! Even when viewing the eclipse through special solar eclipse glasses, make sure you don’t stare too long at the sun!

Solar Viewer (Including Link To DIY at Home Solar Viewer)

Using a solar viewer is a safe way to watch the eclipse. Solar viewers are simple devices. So simple, they can be made at home! They use a pin hole opening to project the image of the sun and eclipse on the back of a box. Because you are not ever looking directly at the eclipse while using the solar viewer, it’s an incredibly safe! Check out the following video link on how to make your own solar viewer at home!

So, even though here in Calgary, we will just be treated to a partial eclipse, tomorrow’s event is something interesting to look forward to! Just remember, show your retinas some love and keep your eyes safe!

Article written by: Trina Vanaalst






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