Here’s how to safely view the April 8 eclipse

Here’s how to safely view the April 8 eclipse

On April 8, the moon will pass between the sun and Earth, known as a total solar eclipse. Those in the path of totality, or in view, will experience dark dawn and dusk-like skies. Individuals in Chicagoland and Wisconsin will experience a partial eclipse. This means the sun, Earth and moon will not be perfectly lined up, but the sun will appear to be a crescent as it is blocked by the moon.

Almost 32 million people live within the path of the eclipse. As millions of eyes of all ages turn to the skies, experts warn of the potential for permanent vision damage.

“Staring at the sun or at the eclipse does not come without risks,” says Dr. Emma B. Olivera, a pediatrician at Advocate Children’s Hospital. “As parents, it’s important that we teach our children not to look directly at the sun on a normal day. During the eclipse, we need to be especially vigilant about protecting both you and your child’s vision.”

Dr. Olivera explains why even though it might feel comfortable looking at the eclipse without eye protection, it isn’t safe.

“When the sun is shining, you naturally squint to protect your eyes,” she explains. “During an eclipse, you don’t have that same experience of the sun shining in your eyes because of the moon’s shadow. But the sun’s rays are still beaming down, posing the risk of damaging retinal cells in the eye. The retina is a key part of your vision, as it converts the light that enters the eye into electrical signals the brain uses to create the images you see. Even a few brief glances up at the sky can do serious damage.”

What can you do to protect your family’s vision?

To witness the eclipse, proper eye protection is critical. Regular sunglasses are not adequate. Instead, solar eclipse glasses or handhold solar viewers are recommended. The American Astronomical Society put together a list of safe solar viewers and filters suppliers.

“Watching the eclipse is a rare and exciting event for the whole family, but don’t take your vision for granted,” says Dr. Olivera. “Keep your family safe by being prepared to safely enjoy this event.”

Are you trying to find a doctor? Look here if you live in Illinois. Look here if you live in Wisconsin. 

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About the Author

Holly Brenza
Holly Brenza

Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is a public affairs coordinator on the content team at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading, watching the White Sox and Blackhawks, playing with her dog, Bear and running her cats' Instagram account, @strangefurthings.