Protecting Your Eyesight While Viewing a Total Eclipse of the Sun
Casper, Wyoming has a front-row seat for a rare and spectacular event in the summer of 2017. For the first time in 38 years, a total eclipse of the sun will occur along a narrow swath of the U.S., with central Wyoming as a focal point for national attention. While the eclipse may be partially evident outside the path of the moon's progress across the sky, this part of the nation is one of the few points where you can see the entire sun blacked out for 2-and-a-half minutes on August 21st. As you might imagine, the state is responding in a big way, namely the Wyoming Eclipse Festival, with the Casper population expected to double temporarily for the viewing. But if you want to view the eclipse without destroying your eyes, you've got some preparations of your own to make. Here are some sight-saving tips from The Eye Institute of Wyoming, P.C.
Never Look Directly at the Sun
It should go without saying that staring directly at the sun can have catastrophic effects on your eyes. The intense light and thermal radiation can trigger photochemical reactions that destroy the cells of the retina, potentially causing permanent blindness. Even the darkest ordinary sunglasses are powerless to protect your eyes from energy of this intensity. If you don't have any specialized gear for looking at the eclipse, you'll have to content yourself with observing the amazing effect of "temporary night" that falls over the landscape.
Use Eclipse Glasses or Another Safe Viewing Aid
Eclipse glasses will be readily available through the Wyoming Eclipse Festival and other local organizations. These specialized glasses not only block 100 percent of UV rays, but they also permit only .0003 percent of visible light to enter the eye -- the maximum safe amount for this kind of viewing. Another safe option is viewing the sun through a sheet of shade number 14 welder's glass. A more indirect method for viewing the eclipse safely is via a pinhole projector. By turning your back to the sun and allowing its rays to shine from a tiny pinhole in a sheet of cardboard onto another sheet of cardboard, you can watch an inverted image of the eclipse.
Avoid Cameras and Magnifying Devices
Cameras, binoculars, telescopes and other optical devices are extremely dangerous for eclipse viewing, even if you're using eclipse glasses or filters. That's because the intense, focused light coming through these devices can actually damage the filter material and wreck your eyes. These devices must be fitted with their own special filters.
If you're careful, you can experience this brief, unique moment of darkness without robbing your eyes of their ability to see daylight's return. If you'd like to learn more or you have specific questions about safe eclipse viewing, feel free to call our Casper or Douglas WY optometry office!