Safety is the most important function in viewing eclipses. The sun emits high levels of extreme light and radiation. Much of the dangerous exposure levels are absorbed or deflected by earth’s atmosphere.
Some of the warmth does make it through the layers. This is what keeps our planet warm and makes life possible. Even with natural forces in place to stop harmful material, the sun is still dangerous to view.
Looking directly at the sun is not possible. Most people know to look away. During an eclipse, however, curious onlookers forget basic eclipse safety and are injured in the process. Education about proper viewing techniques is needed in order to protect the sensitive nature of eyesight.
Millions of people, each year are injured by sunlight. The eye naturally holds defenses against direct damage. Pain is the first indicator of possible injury. Pain in the eye due to sunlight instructs the pupil to close as much as possible only to allow in enough light to see. The brain sends signals to the eyelids and hands to create shielding. Instinct also directs us to look away from the source of light.
Eye damage occurs when the sun’s strong light and radiation enter through the pupil. This essentially burns the back of the eye where images are captured. The first that damage in being done is spots or after images of an object.
Immediate response is needed. Retreat from bright light to a darker area. The image will appear for a few minutes. The eye needs time to adjust the cones and rods. Repair of the eye begins immediately after retreating from the sunlight.
If protection is not sought after the first warning signs, the effects can last longer. Pain induced by burning of the retina is intense. Keeping the damaged eye covered will promote healing. Like all burns, time for the injury to heal is needed. It is important to keep light away from the eye even if the pain and burned image subsides quickly.
Further and more permanent damage can occur. Rods and cones can be so badly burned there is no recovery. Partial burns have a chance to heal if proper care is taken after injury. If too much damage is done, the person is then left with permanent white spots in their field of vision.
Proper Eclipse Safety
Always practice safe viewing methods during an eclipse. Educate children and others about the dangers of the sun. Have young children practice viewing methods inside before the eclipse. This will help to ensure eclipse safety.
* Never look directly at sun at any time
* Sunglasses and other materials are unsafe to attempt direct view and should not be attempted
* If eclipse glasses are unavailable use traditional methods
* Only use certified CE eclipse viewing glasses to see partial or total eclipses
* Seek medical attention right away if eyes hurt after any outdoor exposure