Solar eclipse can fry your eyes without protection

The solar eclipse will take place Aug. 21

People look up at the sun wearing protective glasses to watch a solar eclipse in Jakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, March 9, 2016. The rare astronomical event is being witnessed Wednesday along a narrow path that stretches across 12 provinces encompassing three times zones and about 40 million people. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
People look up at the sun wearing protective glasses to watch a solar eclipse in Jakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, March 9, 2016. The rare astronomical event is being witnessed Wednesday along a narrow path that stretches across 12 provinces encompassing three times zones and about 40 million people. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Are you planning on watching the solar eclipse? If so, you’ll want to protect your eyes, and your everyday sunglasses won’t cut it.

You’ll want to buy eclipse glasses if you plan on looking up at the eclipse on Aug. 21.

A pair of glasses that can be worn to protect your eyes during the total solar eclipse, June 21, 2017. (KOIN)
A pair of glasses that can be worn to protect your eyes during the total solar eclipse, June 21, 2017. (KOIN)

While it seems like you can purchase eclipse glasses anywhere these days, you’ll want to be careful to make sure they meet the international standard recommended by NASA.

The glasses should have a marking that says ISO or EN on it. It’s important to have certified eclipse glasses as doctors say staring at the eclipse without them can cause permanent damage like blindness.

Jim Todd, director of space science education at OMSI, said, “They need to be certified. You can’t just get ordinary sunglasses, or any other devices that you consider to be sun filters.”

Todd explained to KOIN 6 News how the moon blocks the sun, creating the eclipse. He also shared the dangers that lie within the monumental event.

He said your eyes can be permanently damaged if you don’t wear the correct filters or if you look at the sun, either directly or for more than 10 seconds.

Jim Todd, director of space education at OMSI, talks to KOIN 6 News, June 21, 2017. (KOIN)
Jim Todd, director of space education at OMSI, talks to KOIN 6 News, June 21, 2017. (KOIN)

“During the eclipse, no matter where you are, have the solar viewing glasses on hand,” Todd said.

Although sunglasses may seem like a safe choice when viewing the eclipse, optometrists advise against it.

Andrew Aker, optometrist at Visualeyes, said, “A lot of people think ‘Hey, I got a great idea. I’m going to wear 2 pairs of sunglasses.’ Not going to cut it. You definitely need the classified filters, whether wielding glasses or those provided specifically for the eclipses.”

Aker said the effects from sun damage can last anywhere from “a few seconds, to minutes, to days to weeks to months.”

The sun damages your eyes by affecting the retina. It’s the tissue that lines the inside of the eye, which is responsible for converting light and what our brain recognizes as vision.

Andrew Aker, optometrist at Visualeyes, talks to KOIN 6 News, June 21, 2017.
Andrew Aker, optometrist at Visualeyes, talks to KOIN 6 News, June 21, 2017.

The only time you can look at the eclipse without any protection is when it’s completely covered, and you have to be in an area of totality. If you’re somewhere else, like in Portland, you’ll need to wear eclipse glasses the entire time.

This warning is especially important for children as they may see the eclipse starting and stare at it without any protection.