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Impact Of Total Solar Eclipse On Your Eyes And How To Protect Them

A total solar eclipse will occur at the Moon's descending node of the orbit on December 14, 2020. An eclipse can be described as an astronomical event in which an astronomical object is completely or partially obscured temporarily [1] .

Usually, it is the stars, planets or the natural satellites which get obscured, either by the shadow of another passing astronomical object or because of the passage of an astronomical body passing between the obscured object and the viewer.

There are two types of eclipses, which can be seen from the earth, namely, the solar eclipse and the lunar eclipse, and a solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the sun and the earth, so the moon blocks the sun either completely or partially, until it passes to complete a rotation [2] .

A solar eclipse can only occur on a new moon day and during this occurrence, certain parts of the earth may lose sunlight for a short while. Consequently, in most traditions, there is a belief that eclipses can harm a person's health and well-being. So, people are asked to stay indoors and not consume food, etc., until the eclipse passes.

However, scientific studies have pointed out that being exposed during a total solar eclipse does not affect your health in any way. But, looking directly at the sun during the process can severely damage your eyesight. [3] .

Impact Of Total Solar Eclipse On Your Eyes

Experts point out that looking directly during a solar eclipse can lead to a condition known as solar retinopathy - which occurs when bright light from the sun during a solar eclipse damages the light-sensing cells in the retina of the eye [4] . Although this condition may be painless, it could still damage your vision in the long run.

The solar radiations emerging from the eclipse are extremely powerful and can easily cause damage to the photoreceptors, which are cells present in the retina, causing permanent damage to your eyesight [4] .

Likewise, the ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can be the reason of permanent damage to the outer structure of the eye and the intensity of the sun's brightness can easily affect the focal point [5] .

How To Protect Your Eyes During Total Solar Eclipse

1. Use special glasses

Eclipse glasses are specialised glasses that meet the standards set by the ISO (International Standards Organization). These pair of glasses make sure to block the UV rays, infrared and intense visible light emerging from the sun, thus doing a lot of good to the eyes [6] .

But care should be taken that the lenses of these glasses do not have any scratches, wrinkles and should not be more than 3 years old. Unfortunately, a large number of eyewear marketed as eclipse glasses are not authentic. So, when you order a pair for yourself, make sure it is ISO 12312-2.

2. Avoid optical devices

Looking through the camera, telescopes or any other optical device without proper filters should be completely avoided [6] . The filters should be inserted properly at the front of these devices. Also, even while looking through a device with filters, the specialized glasses should be worn because there are chances that the intensity of the sun's rays can damage the device's filter, thus reaching your eyes and permanently damaging them [7] .

3. Use your glasses

For individuals using spectacles, do not remove your glasses but instead, wear the solar glasses over it.

4. Be cautious

While removing your special solar eclipse viewing glasses, be careful and make sure not to expose your eyes to the sun. Remove the specialised glasses while looking away from the sun.

5. Seek expert advice

It is always advised to get proper advice from an expert, as it will help you avoid getting your vision damaged or compromised [8] .

On A Final Note....

Apart from the specialised eyeglasses, you can use projectors and solar filters to view the solar eclipse. However, it is critical that one must be aware that wearing sunglasses will not help protect your eyes during an eclipse [9] . Likewise, regular 3D glasses, the viewfinder of a camera and telescopes without proper filters must not be used for viewing the solar eclipse.

As per Indian Standard Time (IST), the eclipse on 26 December 2019 will begin at 11:31 am on 2 July 2019 and last till 12:52 am on 3 July 2019 [10] .

View Article References
  1. [1] Dash, S., Bhowmik, P., Ghosh, N., & Nandy, D. (2019). The 2019 July 2 Total Solar Eclipse: Prediction of the Coronal Magnetic Field Structure and Polarization Characteristics.arXiv preprint arXiv:1906.10201.
  2. [2] Fowler, J., Wang, J., Ross, D., Colligan, T., & Godfrey, J. (2019). Measuring the Atmospheric Responses of 2017 Total Solar Eclipse (ARTSE2017): Results from Wyoming and New York.Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, (2019).
  3. [3] Young, C. A., Mayo, L., Ng, C., Cline, T., Lewis, E., Reed, S., ... & Wright, E. (2017, January). The 2017 Total Solar Eclipse: Through the Eyes of NASA. InAmerican Astronomical Society Meeting Abstracts# 229(Vol. 229).
  4. [4] Pradipta, R., Yizengaw, E., & Doherty, P. (2018). Ionospheric Density Irregularities, Turbulence, and Wave Disturbances During the Total Solar Eclipse Over North America on 21 August 2017.Geophysical Research Letters,45(16), 7909-7917.
  5. [5] Davis, M., & Donahue, J. (2017). Eclipse and Eye Safety.
  6. [6] Chou, B. R. (2016). Solar eclipse eye safety.Am Astron Soc,1, 1-9.
  7. [7] David, J. (2017). The Solar Eclipse of 2017—A (Protected) View From the Path of Totality.
  8. [8] Banda, H. K., Dang, S., Shah, A. G., & Shah, G. K. (2018). Bilateral Solar Retinopathy After Gazing at the Great American Eclipse.Journal of VitreoRetinal Diseases,2(5), 316-320.
  9. [9] Edson, S. E. (2018, January). The Great American Eclipse: Lessons Learned from Public Education. InAmerican Astronomical Society Meeting Abstracts# 231(Vol. 231).
  10. [10] Tech desk. (2019, July 2). Total solar eclipse July 2019 date and timing in India: Five things to keep in mind. Express Tech.
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