This August, one of the rarest solar eclipses will take place – and it’s going to be a major event! In fact, states where the solar eclipse will be most evident – like the southeastern states – are already noticing an uptick in travel, as many people want to participate in this rare event.

Whether you’re traveling to get the best view of the eclipse or you’re going to enjoy it from the comfort of your own backyard, you’ll want to make sure your eyes are protected the entire time.  Staring directly into a solar eclipse can cause serious and permanent damage to your retinas; in some cases, it can even cause a type of blindness known as solar retinopathy.

In order to keep your eyes safe as possible, it’s recommended that you only look at a solar eclipse via solar filter or eclipse glasses.  Make sure that your glasses carry a special ISO 12312-2 label, as this shows it has undergone rigorous testing and is approved for the purpose of viewing a solar eclipse.  If you order solar eclipse glasses and see that there are any signs of damage (like scratches or dents), don’t use them.

Make sure you never look at a solar eclipse directly, even as you’re preparing to put on your glasses.  Instead, look down at the ground and then put your solar eclipse glasses on.  This ensures that you don’t accidentally damage your retinas in the brief time it takes to put on the glasses (yes, retinal damage can happen that quickly!).

You don’t have to wear your solar glasses the entire time; in fact, you can remove the glasses once the moon has entirely covered the sun.  However, when the sun peeks back around the moon, repeat the above steps immediately in order to continue watching the eclipse.

Want to learn more tips and techniques for keeping your eyes safe during the solar eclipse? Schedule an eye exam with ophthalmologist Dr. Jacqueline Griffiths at NewView Eye Center in Reston, VA today.

NewView Eye Center serves the greater Washington, DC metro area.