Tempting as it may be during Monday's solar eclipse, do NOT look straight at the sun – even if you're wearing sunglasses.
On Monday, August 21, all of North America can view an eclipse of the sun. Much of the country will experience a total solar eclipse – referred to as “the path of totality.” View a map of when the eclipse will happen in various parts of the country >
Even though New Jersey is outside the path of totality, observers will still see a partial solar eclipse where the moon covers part of the sun's disk. The eclipse begins around 1:22pm in New Jersey.
The only way to safely look directly at the partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewers. Ordinary sunglasses are not safe for looking directly at the sun.
Solar eclipse can cause burns to the many layers of eye tissues including the cornea, lens and retina, said Lucy Chen, MD, pediatric ophthalmologist, a staff doctor at Goryeb Children's Hospital/Morristown Medical Center. Damage to the retina, which is the delicate layer of nerve tissue that captures light and images and transmits images to the brain, is most visually consequential, she said.
Damage from viewing the solar eclipse is caused by infrared and UV radiation and excessive blue light. There is no risk to the eye when the eclipse is complete but any visible crescent of the sun behind the moon can cause solar damage to the eye that can result in permanent loss of vision, even blindness. The longer the eye views a partial eclipse, the greater the chance of retinal burns although burns can occur with short duration exposure.
"Children and younger people especially children are most at risk of retinal damage as their lenses tend to be the clearest and cannot disperse the harmful rays," she said. "Eye wear protection is crucial while viewing the solar eclipse directly.”
Eclipse glasses can be purchased online and in stores throughout the country. It is important however, to look for solar filters and glasses that carry the following certification insignia: ISO 12312-2. It is also important that Eclipse glasses and solar filters are purchased from reputable vendors.
How to Safely View the 2017 Solar Eclipse – Do’s and Don’ts from NASA
- Do not look directly at the sun
- Do not use ordinary sunglasses
- Use special-purpose solar filters, such as eclipse glasses or handheld solar viewers, to view the eclipse
- Read and follow the instructions that are printed on or packaged with the filter
- Always supervise children to ensure they are using their eclipse glasses or solar filters correctly
- In any stage of eclipse, do not look at the sun through a camera, telescope, binoculars or other optical device, and never use solar filters with these devices, as concentrated solar rays will damage them and can cause serious eye injury
- Inspect your solar filter before use; if it is scratched or damaged, discard the filter
- Outside the path of totality, you must always use a safe solar filter to view the sun directly (remember New Jersey is not in the path of totality)
Additional resources to help you prepare for viewing the 2017 Solar Eclipse: