• Ashley Fan

The Importance of Solar Eclipse Protection



In two years, the rare spectacle, that is the total solar eclipse, will occur once again for the world to see. This event will happen on April 8, 2024, though there are many things to be aware of before then. More specifically, those who plan to watch the total solar eclipse in 2024 (and even those who aren’t) must know about the safety precautions that they must take to maintain good eyesight. In order to ensure that this experience is also safe and enjoyable, one must also have a thorough understanding of what equipment should be used and what happens if one fails to use it.


To watch a solar eclipse, it is crucial that a person wears “eclipse glasses.” Its properties are quite different from a regular pair of sunglasses, which is why they serve a more practical use against the Sun’s harsh UV rays. The filters made for eclipse glasses are about 100 000 times darker than sunglasses; this makes them safe for looking directly at the sun. The integrity of the manufacturers is also an important factor for these eclipse glasses. Counterfeit eclipse glasses can be sold online or even in stores, so in order to guarantee the functionality of these glasses, they must be purchased from vendors approved by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). This independent organization establishes safety and quality measures for a variety of goods and services, which means any pair of eclipse glasses without their watermark should not be used. And even though it is common knowledge to not look at the sun with the naked eye, there is a lot more to know about the repercussions of this action.


By watching a solar eclipse, a person will have a higher risk of developing solar retinopathy, a term used to describe the retinal injury caused by prolonged UV light exposure. During the eclipse, one may not realize that the light is damaging their eye, since pain cannot be felt in the retina. It is only after the incident has occured that a person might feel the following symptoms: watery eyes, distorted vision, partial or complete loss of central vision, and other ocular related changes. Depending on the severity of the injury, damage to the retina can be permanent. In milder cases, solar retinopathy will resolve over time without any necessary treatment.


The beauty of a solar eclipse is something one would not want to miss. However, risking personal health and safety is not something that should be done for the sake of watching this spectacle. Even if one does miss the opportunity to see it, there is still hope for the next one in another seven years.


Sources:

https://www.space.com/36941-solar-eclipse-eye-protection-guide.html

https://www.asc-csa.gc.ca/eng/astronomy/eclipses/solar-eclipses.asp

https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/faq

https://preventblindness.org/solar-eclipse-and-your-eyes/

https://eyewiki.aao.org/Solar_Retinopathy


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