Eclipse 2017: How to watch it safely and avoid going blind

The Independent, 21 August 2017

A number of newspaper outlets reported on how to watch the solar eclipse safely. The College was quoted in The Independent and The Express.

The College of Optometrists is warning people not to look directly at the sun during the solar eclipse.

Daniel Hardiman-McCartney, Clinical Adviser at the College of Optometrists explains; “While there will be a full solar eclipse in the US, we will only have a partial eclipse in the UK, and in some ways this can be more dangerous as many people may feel that they don’t need the same protection as they would do during a total eclipse. Witnessing even a partial eclipse is a significant and exciting prospect, but it’s really important that you do so safely, and do not put your 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. ”

The College of Optometrists’ has issued the following advice:

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. This works well using a cardboard box, and will allow you to see the progress of the eclipse without damaging your eyes.
  • Use glasses with specially designed solar filters (bearing the appropriate CE mark) if you have to view the eclipse directly.

Read more advice on watching the solar eclipse.