Protecting your eyes during the solar eclipse

Monday, August 21, 2017
Viewing the solar eclipse safely
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Viewing the solar eclipse safely. Ali Gorman reports during Action News at 5 p.m. on August 16, 2017.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The solar eclipse is here. In the Philadelphia area, we're expecting to see a partial eclipse, provided the weather cooperates.

Eye experts are warning, if you plan on watching, plan on using approved eclipse glasses to protect your vision.

You may be fooled into thinking you can stare at the sun as the eclipse is unfolding, but ophthalmologists warn if you stare too long, you could hurt your vision.

RELATED: Local eclipse viewing parties

Jack Dugan is an ophthalmologist with Wills Eye and also an astronomy buff. He's heading to a beach off Charleston, South Carolina to experience the solar eclipse with family.

There, it will be a total eclipse and the sun will become 100 percent blocked by the moon.

"It's like midnight and it happens in an instant and lasts about 2.5 minutes," he said.

Here in the Philadelphia area, we'll see a partial eclipse at about 75 percent. Dr. Dugan says that creates the potential for damage.

Typically it's painful for you to stare up at the sun, but things change during a partial eclipse.

RELATED: Tips for driving during the solar eclipse

"It may get dim enough where your eyes would be comfortable staring up at the eclipsing sun," said Dr. Dugan. "Ultraviolet rays are coming, some infrared, and those can damage your eyes."

It's called solar retinopathy and he says there have been documented cases in people who stared at a partial eclipse.

It causes blurry vision to the middle of eye that can be permanent.

The best defense is NASA or American Astronomical Society-approved eclipse glasses, which block harmful rays or look for glasses which are ISO 12312-2 compliant.

REALTED: Solar eclipse glasses are moving fast

In normal light, you won't see anything. The glasses should be completely black.

But you can see the sun and the glasses will protect your eyes and also enhance your view.

"During the eclipse you'll actually see a little piece of the moon coming across the sun," said Dr. Dugan.

If you just glance up on Monday, you'll be fine. But if you're going to watch, you need these special glasses.

Wills Eye Emergency Room will also be on alert. Dr. Dugan says if someone has a problem, symptoms show up one to four hours after exposure.

For a list of the approved glasses, visit:

For more information on the upcoming solar eclipse, visit:


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