Solar Eclipse: Staying Safe

Mar 19, 2015 in Eye Care

Solar Eclipse: Staying Safe

We all know that exposing ourselves to the sun will burn our skin but did you know the energy from the sun can burn our eyes as well?

That’s why you must never look directly at the sun, even during a full or partial eclipse. The energy from the sun is so strong that it can cause a solar burn to the retina at the back of your eyes. The result can cause permanent damage to your central vision.

Below is an OCT scan of the retina at the back of the eye, as you can see it is damaged and this is caused by exposure to the sun.

A solar eclipse occurs when the orbit of the moon moves between the sun and the earth. In 1999 it was reported that 70 people in the UK lost their sight after looking at the sun during the eclipse in 1999, most of these people apparently only looked at the sun for a few seconds.

Tomorrow, Friday 20th March, there is a partial eclipse of the sun, it will be visible in the South of England between 8.30am through to 10.30am. The maximum effect of the eclipse will be at around 9.30, please make sure your children don’t look directly at the sun on their way to school.

Don’t take a selfie or a photo of the eclipse as standard cameras and smartphones don’t provide suitable projection from the sun’s rays, and you might accidentally look directly towards the sun while taking the photo. The last total eclipse occurred in 1999 when smart phones weren’t around and it’s not expected again until 2090 but there will be other partial solar eclipses in 2017 and 2026.

The only safe ways of watching the eclipse while protecting your eyes, is through the TV, the Internet or a pinhole projector.

You can make a pinhole projector in 2 minutes; all you need is a piece of card and a piece of paper. Then simply create a pin sized hole in the centre of the card. How it works is that you have a piece of card with a pin sized hole in the centre, and project the image of the sun through the pinhole and onto the piece of paper behind it, (see image below).

Remember to turn your back on the sun and NEVER look directly through the pinhole.

Protect now, see later.