Back to Top Skip to main content

Sight safety for solar eclipse viewing

There is only one safe way to look directly at the sun, whether during an eclipse or not and that is with special-purpose solar filters. These solar filters are used in “eclipse glasses” or in hand-held solar viewers. They must meet a very specific worldwide standard known as ISO 12312-2. (U.S. Army photo by Mark Rankin) There is only one safe way to look directly at the sun, whether during an eclipse or not and that is with special-purpose solar filters. These solar filters are used in “eclipse glasses” or in hand-held solar viewers. They must meet a very specific worldwide standard known as ISO 12312-2. (U.S. Army photo by Mark Rankin)

Recommended Content:

Summer Safety | Vision Loss

NAVAL HOSPITAL BREMERTON, Wash. — The much-anticipated August 21, 2017 total eclipse of the sun – with the sun being completely blocked out by passage of the moon – will be initially visible in Oregon and continue across North America to South Carolina. This will be a spectacular sight, but caution should be taken to keep your sight.

“Do not stare at the sun anytime,” said Navy Cmdr. David Hessert, Naval Hospital Bremerton, Ophthalmology Clinic Department Head.

Staring – even squinting – at the sun can cause serious damage to a person’s eye. Ophthalmologists strongly recommend to everyone that they avoid looking directly at the sun during the upcoming total eclipse. Sight safety is an awareness they continually emphasize to everyone.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology in association with the American Astronomical Society, staring at the sun during the total eclipse for even a short time without wearing the right eye protection can permanently damage the retina. 

“There is no treatment from getting such eye damage. It affects clarity of vision and even reading from a distance. Prevention is the key,” stressed Hessert, acknowledging that the upcoming event is certain to attract more than its share of curiosity sight-seekers.

On the day of the eclipse if the sky is clear, most will be able to see a partial eclipse lasting two to three hours. Anyone within an approximate 70-mile-wide path from Oregon to South Carolina referred to as the ‘path of totality’ will experience the total eclipse. At that point, the moon will completely cover the face of the sun for up to 2 minutes 40 seconds and there will be total darkness. 

“Unless you travel to Oregon, you will be viewing a partial eclipse, which is still just as damaging without the proper eye protective wear. If a person is in the area where the sun is completely covered by the moon, they can view. But never during any of the partial phase from anywhere,” Hessert said.

The moon will gradually block the sun from view. Once the sun is covered, the light of day will become deep twilight. The sun’s outer atmosphere, called the solar corona, will then slowly appear like a halo around the moon in front of it. Bright stars and even planets will become more visible in the sky.

“Here in Washington, we will only experience a partial eclipse. At no time during the event will it be safe for us to look at the sun without eclipse glasses,” added Navy Capt. John Hardaway, of NHB’s Ophthalmology & Refractive Surgery. 

There is only one safe way to look directly at the sun, whether during an eclipse or not and that is with special-purpose solar filters. These solar filters are used in “eclipse glasses” or in hand-held solar viewers. They must meet a very specific worldwide standard known as ISO 12312-2.

Hessert and Hardaway both stress that ordinary sunglasses, even dark ones, or using homemade filters, are not safe for looking at the sun.

“Regular sunglasses do not block enough light to prevent the sun from burning the eye. Even very dark sunglasses are not nearly dark enough. Eclipse glasses are very dark. So dark that you can't see anything at all through them unless you are looking directly at a bright source of light,” Hardaway explained.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology and American Astronomical Society also suggest the following steps to safely watch the total eclipse:

  • Always read and follow all directions that come with the solar filter or eclipse glasses. 
  • Help children to be sure they use handheld solar viewers and eclipse glasses correctly.
  • Carefully look at the solar filter or eclipse glasses before using them. If there are any scratches or damage, do not use them.
  • Before looking up at the bright sun, a person should stand still and cover both eyes with the eclipse glasses or solar viewer. After glancing at the sun, turn away and remove the filter—do not remove it while looking at the sun.
  • The only time that anyone can look at the sun without a solar viewer is during a total eclipse in the ‘path of totality.’ When the moon completely covers the sun’s bright face and it suddenly gets dark, a person can remove their solar filter to watch this unique experience. Then, as soon as the bright sun begins to reappear very slightly, immediately use the solar viewer again to watch the remaining partial phase of the eclipse.
  • Never look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars or other similar devices. This is important even if wearing eclipse glasses or holding a solar viewer at the same time. The sun’s rays are too powerful coming through these devices and will damage a person’s eyes as well as solar filter.

That old adage that a person can go blind from looking at an eclipse isn’t an easily ignored myth. It’s a sight safety warning because a person could get solar retinopathy, a form of blindness.

“I would not call this a myth. The sun is always incredibly bright. Even when partially occluded by the moon, the sun is too bright to safely look at,” concluded Hardaway. 

Disclaimer: Re-published content may have been edited for length and clarity.Read original post.

You also may be interested in...

Military vision experts warn of dangers of improper solar eclipse viewing

Article
8/18/2017
A member of the South Carolina National Guard tests her solar eclipse safety glasses. The glasses were distributed by the South Carolina National Guard Safety Office in preparation for the solar eclipse that will occur August 21, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Chelsea Baker)

On August 21, 2017, millions of Americans will turn their eyes to the sky to witness one of the most amazing phenomena: a total solar eclipse

Recommended Content:

Summer Safety

Small critters, big consequences: be mindful of tick-borne diseases

Article
7/21/2017
Tick bites and associated illnesses can be prevented, experts warn

Infections from ticks are on the rise, but they can be prevented. Knowing what the local risks are, such as Lyme disease or Powassan, and taking steps to minimize exposure can help.

Recommended Content:

Summer Safety

Heat Illness Prevention: Use the Buddy System to Stay Cool and Safe

Infographic
7/20/2017
Did you know that exposure to heat and heat-related illnesses can cause a spectrum of disorders that includes minor conditions such as heat cramps to the more severe condition known as heat stroke? To protect U.S. service members, it is important for commanders, small unit leaders, training cadre, and supporting medical personnel to encourage the use of the buddy system to prevent these conditions – especially during training at recruit centers and installations. The buddy system pairs service members to stay motivated and hold each other accountable of their physical limits during training exercises. Protecting Service Members from Heat Illness •	Do not exercise when sick. Intense workouts can increase susceptibility to illness, including infection and diarrhea. •	Dump heat by taking a cold shower or ice slush immersion before a workout. •	Wear a cooling vest to keep skin cool and dry in the heat. Learn more about heat illness prevention at Health.mil/AFHSB Stay cool. Stay hydrated. Stay informed. #BeatTheHeat Source: Dr. Francis G. O’Connor, a professor and chair of Military and Emergency Medicine and associate director for the Consortium on Health and Military Performance at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.

This infographic documents the use of the buddy system to prevent heat-related illnesses.

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Summer Safety

Preventable and Treatable: Know the Signs of Heat Exhaustion

Infographic
7/20/2017
Warmer temperatures and strenuous physical activity put service members at higher risk of heat illnesses. It is important for commanders, small unit leaders, training cadre, and supporting medical personnel – particularly at recruit training centers and installations with large combat troop populations – to educate service members about the risks early signs and symptoms, and preventive treatment measures related to heat illnesses. Signs of Dehydration •	Light-headed/ Dizzy/ Headache •	Fever •	Lack of sweat •	Dark yellow urine •	Thirst Under the signs of dehydration section an image of a man experiencing these early signs and symptoms of heat illnesses. Staying Hydrated •	Hydrate with water and eat rich foods with water before, during, and after exercise. •	Decrease the intensity of the physical activity. Under the staying hydrated section graphics of a water bottle, glass of water, runner and cyclist appear. Signs of Heat Stroke •	Fatigue •	Combative •	Confused •	Muscle cramps Under the signs of heat stroke section, a man experiencing these symptoms of heat stroke displays. Effective Ways to Cool Off a Heat Stroke Victim •	Make an “ice burrito” by wrapping the victim in cold sheets, ice packs, and wet towels •	Immerse victim in cold water Images of ice and a man under a shower appear.  Ways to Treat Heat Exhaustion •	Use a rectal thermostat to read core body temperatures to diagnose and treat heat stroke •	Provide IV fluid replacement •	Spray with cool mist Image of rectal thermostat, man in a hospital bed with an IV and a man being sprayed with cool mist appear. Learn more about heat illness by reading MSMR Vol. 24 No. 3 – March 2017 at Health.mil/MSMR Source: Dr. Francis FG. O’Connor, a professor and chair of Military and Emergency Medicine and associate director for the Consortium on Health and Military Performance at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.

This infographic documents the risks, early signs and symptoms, and preventive treatment measures related to heat illnesses.

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Summer Safety

Exertional heat injuries pose annual threat to U.S. service members

Article
7/20/2017
Two U.S. service members perform duties in warm weather where they may be exposed to extreme heat conditions and a higher risk of heat illness.

Exertional heat injuries pose annual threat to U.S. service members, according to a study published in Defense Health Agency’s Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch (AFHSB) peer-reviewed journal, the Medical Surveillance Monthly Report.

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Summer Safety

Summer sun safety

Article
7/12/2017
We all love being in the sun. But being in the sum means it's time to revisit smart practices to protect you, your family and especially your children from exposure to the sun and its ultraviolet rays. (U.S. Army photo by Ronald Wolf)

Although anyone of any skin color has some risk for skin cancer, some individuals are at much higher risk

Recommended Content:

Summer Safety

Sweltering ‘dog days’ of summer are no walk in the park for household pets

Article
7/11/2017
Dogs like Jade, shown relaxing in the shade in Emerald Isle, North Carolina, are more vulnerable than cats to heat hazards because they usually spend more time outside with their owners.

Heat and other summertime risks for pets

Recommended Content:

Summer Safety | Veterinary Service

Keep an eye on your pets this Fourth of July

Article
6/28/2017
People watch fireworks during a 2016 Fourth of July celebration at a park near Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Fireworks and barbecues may be fun ways for people to celebrate the Fourth of July, but they’re no picnic for household pets. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Devin Rumbaugh)

Fireworks and barbecues may be fun ways for people to celebrate the Fourth of July, but they’re no picnic for household pets

Recommended Content:

Summer Safety | Veterinary Service

Don't let the bugs bite

Article
6/1/2017
Using an insect repellent spray can be an important measure in guarding against bites from fleas, ticks and mosquitoes this summer.

Most parents do a good job of protecting their kids from the sun, but they also need to consider why it's important to guard against potentially harmful insect bites and stings

Recommended Content:

Children's Health | Summer Safety

Summertime food safety

Article
5/30/2017
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates one in six Americans get sick from foodborne illnesses, including those associated with poorly cooked or stored foods in hot environments. To avoid this, follow good cooking tips. Cook foods thoroughly. Use a food thermometer to check for doneness. Make sure cooked foods have reached a safe internal temperature. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The CDC estimates one in six Americans get sick from foodborne illnesses

Recommended Content:

Summer Safety | Nutrition | Human Performance Resource Center

Accidental Drownings Among U.S. Service Members

Infographic
5/25/2017
Military members are at risk for unintentional drownings during training, occupational activities and off-duty recreation. Increase your awareness today to lower your risks: Drowning prevention: Water-related recreational activities in or near water can be potentially dangerous – particularly for non-swimmers and weak swimmers – in hazardous conditions and settings (e.g., storms, currents, riptides), and when safety measures are not observed. Military members are at risk for unintentional drownings during training, occupational activities and off-duty recreation. Here are four ways you can prevent unintentional drowning: •	Wear life jackets. •	Take swim lessons to become a stronger swimmer. •	Swim with a buddy; never swim alone. •	Be knowledgeable of water environments you are in. Increase your awareness and lower your risks by reading the Medical Surveillance Monthly Report (MSMR) Vol. 22 No. 6 – June 2015 report “Update: Accidental drownings, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2005 – 2014 at www.Health.mil/MSMR  #SwimSafe Follow us on Twitter for more information at AFHSBPAGE. Also check out hashtag #SwimSafe. Source: Defense Health Agency, Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. Graphic shows: •	Man swimming in pool •	Mom with three children swimming in pool. •	Woman swimming in pool

Military members are at risk for unintentional drownings during training, occupational activities and off-duty recreation. This infographic provides swim safety information to help increase awareness and lower the risks of accidental drownings among service members.

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Summer Safety

Preserving the Force

Policy

A message from the Secretary of Defense about summer safety

  • Identification #: N/A
  • Date: 4/17/2017
  • Type: Memorandums
  • Topics: Summer Safety

Belvoir Hospital first in DoD to perform new vision correction procedure

Article
4/13/2017
The Warfighter Refractive Eye Surgery Program and Research Center at the Belvoir Hospital performs the first small incision lenticule extraction procedure in the DoD, the latest advancement in laser eye surgery. The procedure uses a very fast, short-pulsed laser to perform the vision correction procedure and as a result, visual recovery time is accelerated. (Department of Defense photo by Reese Brown)

Fort Belvoir Community Hospital’s surgeons performed the first small incision lenticule extraction procedure in the Department of Defense

Recommended Content:

Military Hospitals and Clinics | Vision Loss

Update: Heat Illness Active Component U.S. Armed Forces, 2016

Infographic
4/4/2017
Heat illness refers to a spectrum of disorders that occur when the body is unable to dissipate heat absorbed from the external environment and the heat generated by internal metabolic processes. As heat illness progresses, failure of one or more body systems can occur. This infographic provides an update on heat illness among active component U.S. Armed Forces during 2016. There were 401 incident cases of heat stroke and 2,135 incident cases of other heat illness among active component service members. The annual incidence rate of cases of heat stroke in 2016 was slightly lower than the rate in 2015. There were fewer heat-stroke-related ambulatory visits and more reportable events in 2016 than in 2015. ‘Other heat illness’ was slightly higher in 2016 than in 2015. High risk of heat stroke in 2016 included males, service members aged 19 years or younger, Asian/Pacific Islanders, Recruit Trainees, Combat-specific occupations, Marine Corps and Army members. To learn more about the significant threat of heat illnesses to both the health of U.S. military members and the effectiveness of military operations, visit www.Health.mil/MSMR

Heat illness refers to a spectrum of disorders that occur when the body is unable to dissipate heat absorbed from the external environment and the heat generated by internal metabolic processes. As heat illness progresses, failure of one or more body systems can occur. This infographic provides an update on heat illness among active component U.S. ...

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Summer Safety

Minority Health Heat Illness Active Component U.S. Armed Forces, 2016

Infographic
4/4/2017
Heat illness refers to a spectrum of disorders that occur when the body is unable to dissipate heat absorbed from the external environment and the heat generated by internal metabolic processes. As heat illness progresses, failure of one or more body systems can occur. This report summarizes reportable medical events of heat illnesses, heat-related hospitalizations and ambulatory visits among minority active component members (Black, non-Hispanic, Hispanic, and Asian/Pacific Islanders) during 2016. In 2016, incidence rates of heat stroke were highest among Asian/ Pacific Islanders than any other ethnicity. Crude incidence rate of “other heat illnesses” was higher among females than males.  Heat Incidence cases: •	Black, non-Hispanic heat illness incidence cases – 64 for heatstroke and 389 for other heat illnesses •	Hispanic heat illness incidence cases—  63 for heatstroke and 320 for other heat illnesses •	Asian/ Pacific Islander heat illness incidence cases – 32 for heatstroke and for  117 other heat illnesses Incidence rates: •	Black, non-Hispanic incidence rates – 0.30 for heatstroke and 1.84 for other heat illnesses •	Hispanic incidence rates – 0.33 for heatstroke and 1.67 for other heat illnesses •	Asian/Pacific Islander – 0.62 for heatstroke and 2.26 for other heat illnesses Of all military members, the youngest and most inexperienced marines and soldiers – particularly those training at installations in the south eastern U.S. – are at highest risk of heat illnesses including heat stroke, exertional hyponatremia, and exertional rhabdomyolysis. Learn more at www.Health.mil/MSMR

Heat illness refers to a spectrum of disorders that occur when the body is unable to dissipate heat absorbed from the external environment and the heat generated by internal metabolic processes. As heat illness progresses, failure of one or more body systems can occur. This report summarizes reportable medical events of heat illnesses, heat-related ...

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Summer Safety
<< < 1 2 3 > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 3

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.