On August 21 we will experience a total solar eclipse. The last total solar eclipse to pass through the continental United States was 99 years ago. What is a solar eclipse? A solar eclipse is when the moon passes between the sun and the earth causing part or all of the sun to be blocked. The eclipse will start in our area at about 1:13pm and end at 4:06pm.
Seeing an eclipse is something that happens once in a lifetime, but it is important to follow proper safety guidelines when viewing the eclipse. You never want to look directly into the sun without appropriate protection except when the sun is totally covered by the moon. This phase only lasts about 2 minutes long. Regular sunglasses are not strong enough during an eclipse. In order to look directly at the sun during an eclipse you need special eclipse glasses to protect your eyes. The glasses should be worn at all times while outside during the eclipse.
What happens if I look directly at the sun without glasses? Yes, you will go blind if you manage to endure the pain and stare at the sun for long enough. The pain from the visible part of the light spectrum could be extreme, but ultraviolet light - which we can't see - is what actually ruins the eye. It literally gives your eye a sunburn. Depending on the sky conditions, it only takes about a minute and a half for your eyes to be permanently damaged, and the damage is cumulative, meaning you don't have to stare at the sun without looking away for it to be harmful - you may just be taking quick glances, but it's still damaging your eye.
Here is a chart for when to wear your eclipse glasses: https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/Safety2.png
For more information on the eclipse
Matthew D’Antonio, PT, DPT
Pediatric Physical Therapist