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Solar EclipseBy Dr. Michael Boehm ~

On April 8, 2024, a total solar eclipse will cross North America, passing over Mexico, the United States and Canada. 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. Weather permitting, the Quad Cities is predicted to see about 90% of the totality around 2 p.m.

Most people will want to view this memorable event, but looking directly at the sun can seriously damage your eyes. Staring at the sun briefly without proper eye protection can permanently damage your retina. Like using a magnifying glass to focus the sun and start a fire, the sun can “burn” holes in your retina.

The only time it’s safe to look directly at the sun is during the brief total phase (“totality”) when the moon entirely blocks the sun’s bright face, which happens only within the narrow path of totality. We are not in the path of totality, so viewing without eclipse glasses/filters will not be safe in the Quad Cities.

Ordinary sunglasses and homemade filters are not safe for viewing the sun. The only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as eclipse glasses that comply with the transmittance requirements of the ISO 12312-2 international standard. Click here for more information.

This is what you need to know to safely view the eclipse according to the American Astronomical Society and the American Academy of Ophthalmology:

  1. Inspect your solar glasses/filters for damage. Do not use if damaged.
  2. Read and follow the instructions printed on the package or glasses.
  3. Help children ensure they use handheld solar viewers and eclipse glasses correctly.
  4. Wear your eclipse glasses or put your shield over your eyeglasses.
  5. Stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer before looking up at the bright sun. After looking at the sun, turn away and remove your filter. Do not remove it while looking at the sun.
  6. Do not look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars or other optical device.
  7. Similarly, do not look at the sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device while using your eclipse glasses or handheld solar viewer in front of your eyes. The concentrated solar rays could damage the filter and enter your eyes, causing severe injury.
  8. Outside the path of totality and throughout a partial solar eclipse, there is no time when it is safe to look directly at the sun without using a special-purpose solar filter that complies with the transmittance requirements of the ISO 12312-2 international standard.
  9. If your eclipse glasses or viewers comply with the transmittance requirements of the ISO 12312-2 safety standard, and if their filters aren’t scratched, punctured, torn, coming loose from the frame, or otherwise damaged, you may reuse them indefinitely. Furthermore, you may look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through them for as long as you wish.

If you’re in the Eye Surgeons Associates clinic that day, we’ll have some eclipse glasses to share with patients. I hope we can fully enjoy this one, as the next one won’t be seen until August 23, 2044.

BIO: Michael Boehm, M.D. is a board-certified comprehensive ophthalmologist at Eye Surgeons Associates with a fellowship in cornea and external diseases and a specialty interest in dry eye. Dr. Boehm practices at our offices in Bettendorf and Rock Island.

The material contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.


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