Total lunar or solar eclipses are events that do not occur in your backyard annually. The 2017 solar eclipse was viewed in North America. The 2019 July total solar eclipse bypasses North America and is more favorably visible in South America. Yet, no matter what the location and whether the eclipse is a partial or total one, eclipse glasses are essential for safe viewing.
Why Glasses Are Not Optional
Glasses or viewers for watching eclipses are imperative. They are, actually, the only way to ensure any individual can watch a solar eclipse safely. The reasons are simple. The sun emits a variety of light types including ultraviolet and infrared. Staring at the sun with the naked eye, even without it going into eclipse can be dangerous. The rays (particularly from UV light) can cause photokeratitis. It affects the cells of the cornea, causing them to blister and crack. Your eyes are going to feel like you have rubbed them with an irritating substance such as sandpaper. While this condition is only temporary, disappearing within a 36- hour period, the same cannot be said for eyes exposed to the direct effects of an eclipse.
Watching a solar eclipse with the naked eye results in damage to the retina called solar retinopathy. Unlike photokeratitis, retinopathy is a permanent condition. The only way to avoid it is to protect your eyes using eclipse glasses, viewers, or any other form of recognized safe eyewear.
Eclipse Glasses: Protecting Your Eyes
While it is hard to pass up an eclipse of the sun or moon, if you do not have protective eyewear of some type, this is your only option. Staring unprotected at an eclipse can result in permanent damage to the retina of the eye. To avoid eclipse blindness or any other form of retinopathy, wear safe and approved ISO rated eclipse glasses.