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Organizations planning ahead with resources for total solar eclipse

News
Article

Prevent Blindness and the American Optometric Association have released resources and educational information to help the public and eye care providers prepare for the astronomical event on April 8.

A group of people viewing the eclipse outside Image Credit: AdobeStock/thebigland45

Image Credit: AdobeStock/thebigland45

A handful of organizations are already prepping for the April 8 total solar eclipse.

Prevent Blindness will be utilizing its Eclipse + Your Eyes program, which includes educational videos, materials, and toolkits for the public.1 Additionally, the American Optometric Association (AOA) is supplying materials for its member doctors and posting eye safety information to help keep the public's eyes healthy during the event.2

The total solar eclipse, which will be the last viewable in the United States until 2045, can be viewed in its path of totality beginning in Mexico and passing through Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, according to a Prevent Blindness news release. Its path will then end in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. A partial eclipse will also be viewable throughout the continental United States.1

“This April, everyone in the contiguous United States will be able to view this spectacular astral event – one not to be seen again for more than 20 years. Prevent Blindness wants to ensure all eyes are protected while doing so,” said Jeff Todd, president and CEO of Prevent Blindness. “We encourage everyone to visit our website where they can purchase Prevent Blindness-branded eclipse glasses with proceeds supporting our sight-saving mission, and also access a number of other informative eclipse resources.”

Both Prevent Blindness and AOA warn against “eclipse blindness,” or solar retinopathy, which occurs when eyes are exposed to the sun during an eclipse and the light exposure damages or destroys retina cells.2 Symptoms of incorrect viewing of the eclipse include loss of central vision, distorted vision, and altered color vision.3 For those who may experience symptoms after viewing the eclipse, the AOA suggests urgently visiting an eye care provider to avoid vision loss. Eye care providers can also be found on the AOA’s doctor locator.2

To avoid retinal damage, the AOA states that sunglasses, smoked glass, unfiltered telescopes or magnifiers, and polarizing filters are unsafe to use. Both Prevent Blindness and AOA advise that the eclipse should only be viewed through “eclipse glasses,” or viewers that meet the safety guidelines of the International Organization for Standardization 12312-2. Additionally, for those looking for a do-it-yourself option, a buildable pinhole projector is also safe to use.3 Prevent Blindness is selling solar eclipses glasses that meet these safety guidelines, and will have proceeds going to support its sight-saving programs.1

When using these devices, the viewers should be covering your eyes before and while you are looking up at the eclipse. During the period of time when the moon will be completely covering the sun during the blackout, it is safe to take the glasses off. However, they must be put back on after the sun emerges from behind the moon.3

For those looking for additional educational resources, Prevent Blindness has more information, toolkits, and fact sheets on its website available to download for free. That includes lesson books on the eclipse for school teachers, tips on photographing safely during the eclipse, resources for planning a viewing party, and more.1

References:
  1. Upcoming total solar eclipse on April 8will be one of the longest total solar eclipses of the 21st century. Prevent Blindness. News release. Published February 8, 2024. Accessed March 13, 2024. https://preventblindness.org/prevent-blindness-total-solar-eclipse-april-2024
  2. American Optometric Association Shares Eye Safety Information and Resources Ahead of Total Solar Eclipse. American Optometric Association. News Release. Published March 11, 2024. Accessed March 13, 2024.
  3. Solar Eclipses and Eye Safety. American Optometric Association. Published August 22, 2023. Accessed March 13, 2024. https://www.aoa.org/healthy-eyes/caring-for-your-eyes/solar-eclipses?sso=y
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