On August 21st, the United States will experience its first coast to coast total solar eclipse in 99 years. It will possibly be the most viewed celestial event in history as more than 100 million people live near its direct trajectory. Unfortunately, those of us in NE Iowa are not in the direct path and will be experiencing a partial eclipse, not the total eclipse that is creating all the headlines. The sun here in New Hampton will be 88% covered.
One of the common questions we get at Eye Care Associates is “How can I view the eclipse and not hurt my eyes?”. There are two ways, one indirect and one direct. Indirect viewing can be accomplished with a pinhole viewer and is the safest and least expensive method. Poke a hole into a piece of cardboard and hold the cardboard so the sun passes through it onto a smooth surface. The projected image will show the eclipse as it is happening. An internet search can reveal many more elaborate designs that work well.
DIRECTLY VIEWING THE ECLIPSE IS VERY RISKY! For those in areas where the eclipse is 100%, they will be able to directly view the sun for about 2 minutes BUT ONLY WHEN THERE IS 100% COVERAGE.
The 88% eclipse we will have here CANNOT BE VIEWED DIRECTLY WITH UNPROTECTED EYES. The retinal damage caused by direct viewing is permanent and life altering. If you have access to genuine eclipse glasses with ISO reference 12312-2 lenses- the eclipse can be viewed safely - HOWEVER -----.
Many of these eclipse glasses have been recalled because the ISO reference 12312-2 was simply attached to darkly tinted sunglasses. There is no way to test the lenses to be sure they are "the real deal" unless you have access to a high energy spectrometer (found only in special laboratories).
Would you risk your eyesight to a pair of glasses that may not have the correct filtering properties? WE ADVISE OUR PATIENTS NOT TO DO SO. Many experts in the ophthalmic industry predict that there will be many cases of retinal damage following this eclipse.