People are being warned not to look directly at the sun during the solar eclipse to protect their eyes on Monday, 21st August.

The UK will witness a partial solar eclipse, which happens when the moon comes between the sun and the earth, with only 4 per cent of the sun covered by the moon, while the United States experiences a total solar eclipse, plunging 11 American states into darkness for several minutes. The eclipse will start shortly after 7pm on Monday in the UK with a maximum sun coverage at 8pm.

People may be tempted to look directly at the sun as it disappears during the eclipse but the College of Optometrists is reminding people of the potential damage they could be doing to their eyes if they don’t protect them properly.

Daniel Hardiman-McCartney, Clinical Adviser at the College of Optometrists, said witnessing even a partial eclipse was a significant and exciting prospect but it was important that people did so safely and didn’t put their sight at risk.

“You should never look directly at the sun during a total or partial eclipse. This is because the radiation emitted by the sun is so powerful it may cause long term harm to the retina. The safest and probably most reliable way to watch the eclipse is via a webcam stream or television broadcast,” he said.

Advice on watching the partial eclipse from the College:

Don’t:

  • Don’t look directly at the sun, even with sunglasses on – they don’t offer enough protection
  • Don’t watch it directly through a telescope, binoculars, camera, tablet or camera-phone. Even if you are just lining up the projection or your smart phone, this still puts you at risk

Do:

  • Watch a webcam stream or television broadcast of the event, a reliable and safe alternative to direct viewing.
  • Use a pinhole projection method. This involves putting a hole in a piece of cardboard, and holding the cardboard up – with your back to the sun – so that an image of the sun is projected onto another piece of paper or card.
  • Use glasses with specially designed solar filters (bearing the appropriate CE mark) if you have to view the eclipse directly.

More information is available on the Look After Your Eyes website.

Photo source: The Look After Your Eyes website.