For those lucky enough to be in its path, the first total eclipse of the sun to span coast to coast across the U.S. mainland in almost a century is set to put on a celestial event on Aug. 21. But there are precautions you should take if you want to maintain your eye health and witness the spectacle in its full glory.
The most important tip is to have proper eclipse-viewing glasses, which are heavily tinted—much more so than regular sunglasses—to protect your eyes as you gaze at the sun. Eclipse-viewing glasses will enable you to see the moon track across the orb of the sun until it creates a total eclipse, revealing the sun’s brilliant corona.
In preparation for this rare event, UnitedHealthcare is donating 10,000 solar-eclipse glasses to schools and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. The glasses and education materials with tips to safely view the eclipse will be handed out at select schools and more than a dozen Clubs nationwide.
“For people hoping to experience this unique celestial event, it is important to take proper precautions,” said Dr. Linda Chous, chief eye care officer of UnitedHealthcare Vision. “That’s why we are making this donation and sharing safety tips with the public.”
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon blocks any part of the sun. But on Aug. 21, anyone within a roughly 70-mile-wide path from Oregon to South Carolina will be able to experience a total solar eclipse for about 2 minutes, weather permitting.(The map below shows the path of the total eclipse, also known as the “totality.”) Millions more will be able to witness a partial eclipse.
If you miss this spectacle, the next time a total solar eclipse will traverse the entire U.S. mainland will be on Aug. 12, 2045.
Tips to Safely View a Solar Eclipse
1. It is unsafe for anyone to look directly at the sun at any time or during a solar eclipse, other than if you are located in the path of totality during the brief total phase of the eclipse.
2. Use approved solar eclipse glasses and avoid fake viewers that are being sold; a list of vendors is available here. Read and follow any instructions packaged with or printed on the glasses.
3. Do not look at the sun through a camera, a telescope, binoculars or any other optical device while using your eclipse glasses, as the concentrated solar rays can damage the filter, enter your eyes and cause serious injury and blindness.
4. Eclipse glasses should be removed only once the moon completely blocks the sun along the path of totality (shown on the map above).Once the sun reappears, glasses should be replaced immediately.
5. Visit a local eye care professional for a comprehensive exam if you or a family member experience discomfort or vision problems following the eclipse.
[Source: American Optometric Association]