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Flaum Eye Institute / Healthy Eyes / 2024 Solar Eclipse

2024 Solar Eclipse

Safely Celebrate This Historic Event! Group of people wearing eclipse glasses








April 8, 2024

We share your excitement for this celestial event that is rare to our region! As thousands of friends, family, and onlookers descend upon the Finger Lakes, we want to make sure that everyone protects their vision. Improper observation of a solar eclipse can result in serious and irreversible damage to your eyes. Always remember: looking directly into the sun at any time without proper protection causes damage. This page is filled with tips and tricks to safely observe a solar eclipse.

Eclipse Tips

  • If viewing the eclipse directly, always wear ISO 12312-2 solar eclipse glasses during the event 
  • Put on or remove your glasses after looking away from the sun. Make sure these glasses fit your face and cover your eyes properly before you look at the sun.
  • Never use cameras, telescopes, or binoculars without their own solar filter, even when using solar viewing glasses. These devices concentrate light and cause sunlight to burn through solar glasses.
  • Always serve as a good role model and help others around you view the eclipse safely, especially children and youth. We recommend that small children should not view the eclipse directly with protective glasses. If they can't understand that it is dangerous, then they shouldn't be looking, even with adult supervision.
  • There are safe, fun, and inexpensive ways to indirectly view a solar eclipse. They might be a fun family project. Discover how to do it at NASA
  • Wear sunscreen and/or UV protective clothing and stay hydratedProlonged exposure to direct sunlight can damage skin and cause dehydration.  Besides sunburn, overexposure to solar radiation increases your risk of skin cancer. 

How Damage Can Occur to Your Eyes (Solar Retinopathy)

Even short exposure to the sun's radiation can hurt your vision

Our eyes are our body’s camera. Light comes into the eye through the cornea and enters the back part of the eye through our eye’s natural aperture or opening, called the pupil, and reaches the retina. The retina is the back lining of the inner wall of the eye that is a complex network of cells and nerve tissue. The retina processes visible light rays or wavelengths into electrochemical signals that the optic nerve takes Diagram of an Eyeto the visual processing areas of the brain where images of what you see are formed.

The retina is very sensitive and delicate, like a wet piece of tissue paper and is constantly active during our awake hours as we constantly processing light. The cornea and lens focus light on the retina and the pupil constricts and dilates depending how much light is reaching the eye to regulate how much light is reaching the retina to protect it from being damaged by exposure to too much light.

We should remember that the rays of the sun reaching the eye are not only contain wavelengths in the visible light range – causing us to see colors, but also have wavelengths that are invisible to the eyes, such as ultraviolet or UV light and infrared light or radiation that can damage the retina especially if the intensity or duration of such light overwhelms the usual defenses in the retina against the effects of these wavelengths of light.

During the eclipse the overall brightness of the sun is reduced when the moon blocks sunlight over a region of the earth. The darkness during the phases of the eclipse when the sun is partially covered by the moon causes the eye not to blink as much due to the decreased intensity of visible light and the pupil to dilate rather than constrict, which allows more visible as well as damaging UV and infrared light for longer durations into an unprotected eye.

Even just a few seconds of this additional UV and infrared light entering the eye overwhelms the ability of the retina to protect against their oxidative and thermal effects causing photochemical toxicity and damage to cells in the retina, called solar retinopathy. This damage may not appear for hours after viewing the sun and occurs without pain as the retina has no pain receptors. So, it can come without warning.

Visit our YouTube page for videos on eclipse tips