Viewing a Solar Eclipse without Risking Eye Damage

June 7th, 2021

We’re lucky to have three solar eclipses viewing opportunities during a four-year space of time: the one at the end of 2020 was most visible in Asia and Africa. Another one will draw viewers on June 10, 2021, and yet another major opportunity to say “wow” a few years later, on April 8, 2024. Each one will be a distinctly different experience, but there’s one thing in common: it’s important to avoid eye damage while you’re enjoying the view.

Direct Viewing

Direct viewing of the sun, even during a partial eclipse, is dangerous for your vision and darkened glasses alone won’t necessarily protect you. Paper glasses that are ISO-12312-2 compliant have protection against solar eye damage. It’s important to be sure that they’re the real thing, as many people discovered in 2017. While direct viewing has risks such as from damaged or inadequate eclipse glasses, indirect viewing doesn’t risk your eyes. As people with conditions such as diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration can tell you, losing your vision due to retina damage is tragic and permanent. Here are some ways to view the eclipse indirectly.

Box Projector Projects

The “box projector” is similar to the pinhole camera concept, where a small hole in cardboard serves as a lens, in this case projecting the sun’s image onto a piece of paper, eclipse and all. Looking directly at the sun through a regular lens is very dangerous, even during an eclipse, but they can also be used to project an image of the sun onto a surface for viewing.

Electronic Ways to Watch

What about viewing with your cell phone, camera, or other device? First, don’t look through a standard viewfinder that just passes the sun’s light through. That’s back to the dangers of direct viewing. Many cameras have LCD-style viewfinders now which don’t provide a direct view, but to protect your camera, Nikon notes that you need a special solar filter. This typically reduces the sun’s energy reaching the camera’s sensors by a factor of 100,000.

Leaving it to the Pros for a Spectacular View

For amazing views of the eclipse in detail, check online live streaming feeds. NASA plans to live stream the solar eclipse on June 10, 2021, and the Royal Observatory in Greenwich is planning too as well.

What if Someone Does Look at an Eclipse Directly?

Possible consequences from viewing an eclipse directly, even briefly, can include solar retinopathy (loss of central vision), distorted vision, or altered color vision. If you experience these or any other changes in your vision after viewing an eclipse, see your ophthalmologist or other eye professional right away.

Leading Eye Doctors in Greater Denver at ICON Eye Care

For eye concerns, routine eye exams, specialist eye care, and cataract and LASIK surgery in greater Denver, the choice is an easy one. ICON Eyecare has a long history of offering friendly, professional patient care and the services of many of the area’s top ophthalmologists and eye care professionals. Give us a call today.