A doctor with Vistar Eye Center is warning those who plan on watching the Great American Total Solar Eclipse Monday to protect their eyes.


The moon will pass over the sun, but will not reach “totality” in Southwest Virginia. This means part of the sun will still be exposed when at its peak time of 2:40 p.m. and cannot be viewed without lenses specifically designed for the event.

“When the sun becomes covered, even partially, it becomes deceivingly safe,” said Dr. Will Griffeth, an ophthalmologist at Vistar Eye Center. “It’s important for people to understand that the rays from the sun aren’t safe in any case. Without the proper protection, these rays can burn your retina and cause permanent damage to your eyes.”

Those who plan on viewing the solar eclipse must do so using solar filters or viewers compliant with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Sunglasses, dilation glasses and makeshift filters like fabrics or tinted plastics cannot be used. Solar glasses are widely available for purchase, but buyers must be aware of fake lenses on the market.

“Solar viewers that are ISO-compliant will have a stamp indicating so, but that can be easily duplicated and isn’t a fool-proof way to identify imposters,” Griffeth said. “Check the visibility in your glasses by using them to view the hot filament of an unfrosted incandescent light bulb or the LED flashlight from your cell phone. This light should appear to be very dim and, if it isn’t, your lenses are unsafe.”

To help further ensure the safety of the glasses, users can look for the ISO certification number 12312-2. Additionally, the manufacturer’s address must be present on the eyeglasses to ensure compliance.

Vistar Eye Center is also urging parents to supervise their children at all times during the eclipse as they are more likely to look directly at the sun.

The safest way to view the solar eclipse is by watching online with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) at www.nasa.gov/eclipselive. For more information on eye safety visit Vistar Eye Center online at www.vistareye.com.

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