DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH NEWS RELEASE
On Oct. 14, New Mexicans will be able to witness a solar eclipse and should be aware of the steps they can take to protect their eyesight if they want to view the event.
Solar eclipses occur when the moon moves between the sun and the earth. It is never safe to look at a partial solar eclipse without proper safety equipment or techniques. During the very brief time the sun is in a total solar eclipse it is safe to look at it, but people should do so with extreme caution as it does not last long.
“When it comes to witnessing the Oct. 14 solar eclipse, choosing the right eye protection is non-negotiable,” said Patrick Allen, Secretary for the New Mexico Department of Health (DOH). “Ensure your safety with ISO 12312-2 labeled solar eclipse glasses, pinhole projection, or Number 14 welder’s glasses. Prioritize your eyesight, as ‘eclipse blindness’ is a silent danger.”
Exposing your eyes to the sun without proper eye protection during a solar eclipse can cause “eclipse blindness” or retinal burns. This damage can be temporary or permanent and occurs with no pain. It can take a few hours to a few days after viewing the solar eclipse to realize the damage has occurred. Symptoms include loss of central vision, distorted vision and altered color vision. If you notice symptoms after viewing a solar eclipse, seek treatment from an eye care professional immediately.
“The allure of a solar eclipse is undeniable, but so is the risk to our eyes,” said Miranda Durham, M.D., DOH Chief Medical Officer. “It’s crucial to remember that partial eclipses demand proper eye protection. Even during a total eclipse, exercise extreme caution. ‘Eclipse blindness’ is a real threat, and if you experience symptoms, seek immediate care from an eye professional.”
Here are a few safe ways to view a solar eclipse:
- Expert-approved solar eclipse glasses: Make sure they meet safety requirements and are labeled with the ISO 12312-2 standard.
- Pinhole projection: This helps you avoid looking directly at the eclipse by using a projected image. This is the safest and cheapest way to view a solar eclipse.
- Number 14 welder’s glasses: These can be found at local welder’s supply stores.
- Mylar filters: Plastic mylar sheets that can be cut and made into viewing boxes.
If you are planning a gathering to view the solar eclipse, Prevent Blindness has a toolkit you can use to prepare.
These are some things you should NOT use to view a solar eclipse:
- Smartphones: Watching a solar eclipse on your smartphone camera can put you at risk of accidentally looking at the sun when trying to line up the camera. It could also damage your smartphone camera.
- Camera viewfinders: Your eyes can still be damaged in the same way as looking directly at the solar eclipse.
- Unsafe filters: Unless specifically designed for viewing a solar eclipse, no filter is safe to use with any optical device (telescopes, binoculars, etc.).
For more information visit preventblindness.org.