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A solar eclipse is an exciting event occurring only a few times in our lives.

They happen when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, blocking the sun's from reaching the Earth for a few minutes. In some areas, the moon will completely block sunlight, causing what is known as "totality."

If weather permits, millions of people accross the world will be looking up at the sky on August 21st. However, many people are unaware that while sunlight might be limited on that day, it is still not safe to look directly at a solar eclipse.

Looking at exposed parts of the sun with the naked eye can have serious consequences such as:

  • Pain
  • Retinal damage
  • Macular degeneration from radiation
  • Partial or total loss of vision

The people most at risk of having damage done to their eyes are children. While an adult has a slightly better chance of absorbing and scattering damage across his or her eye, kids are not as lucky. Their eyes are much more prone to serious damage due to their developing lenses.

August 21st is a Monday and a school day for most, which likely means you won't be around to ensure your child's eye safety at his or her school. Therefore, it is important to advise your kids about the dangers of looking directly at an eclipse.

Here are 6 reminders for safe viewing of this spectacular event:

  1. Wear special, approved solar eclipse viewing glasses (over your normal glasses if you wear them).
  2. Be aware of fake viewing glasses. You can find a list of approved solar eclipse viewing glasses here.
  3. Do not look at an uneclipsed or partially uneclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope or binoculars.
  4. Do not remove your solar filters while looking at the sun.
  5. Do not look through a camera, telescope or binoculars with solar glasses, as the concentrated solar rays can damage the filter and enter your eyes.
  6. Do not try to photograph an eclipse, as the sun can also damage a camera's sensors.

A total solar eclipse is a fun and exciting event that will not be viewable again in North America until the year 2024. While I encourage stepping outside and witnessing it, I cannot stress enough to do so safely! Happy viewing!

Ryan Isherwood, MD

A native Nebraskan, Dr. Isherwood began his career in health care as a radiologic technician prior to deciding he wanted to pursue family medicine. A native of Lincoln, Nebraska, Dr. Isherwood graduated from Lincoln Southeast High School and Southeast Community College. Dr. Isherwood obtained a bachelor of science in radiation services and received his doctorate of medicine from the University of Nebraska School of Medicine.   Board-certified in family medicine, Dr. Isherwood als ...

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