Know when to wear your solar eclipse glasses and when to take them off

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Millions of sky gazers are anticipated to witness a total solar eclipse on Monday, but the Cleveland Clinic warns of potential lifelong eye damage if proper precautions are not taken.

According to Nicole Bajic, MD, a surgical ophthalmologist at Cleveland Clinic, using eclipse glasses compliant with the ISO 12312-2 international standard is crucial to safely viewing the sun during the event. “Even though this is an exciting and rare event, you don’t want to damage your vision for the rest of your life by not protecting your eyes,” Dr. Bajic emphasized.

Directly looking at the sun without proper eye protection can result in temporary or permanent vision loss, Dr. Bajic cautioned. It is imperative to wear eye protection before attempting to view the solar eclipse.

Individuals situated within the “path of totality,” where the moon completely obstructs the sun, may briefly remove their eclipse glasses. However, glasses must be promptly worn again once the sun becomes visible. For those outside this path, who will only observe a partial solar eclipse, wearing eclipse glasses throughout the event is mandatory as the moon never fully covers the sun.

Dr. Bajic underscored the importance of recognizing whether one is within the path of totality. “There is never a safe time to take off the glasses during a partial solar eclipse,” she stressed.

Symptoms such as blurred vision or blind spots may manifest if the sun is viewed directly without protection. Immediate consultation with an eye doctor is advised if any vision changes occur.

Children are particularly vulnerable to eye damage from direct sun exposure, Dr. Bajic noted, emphasizing the necessity of ensuring they wear eclipse glasses correctly.