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How to Watch the Eclipse Safely | Avoid Blindness

Protect Your Eyes and Vision from Solar Eclipse | Randall Wong MD Retina Specialist

Are your prepared to watch the eclipse safely?

WARNING:  It’s never safe to stare directly at the sun or at an eclipse.

Here’s how you can safely view the upcoming eclipse without causing eye damage or blindness.

The Great American Eclipse 2017

A total eclipse of the sun will occur on August 21, 2017 in North America.  This may be a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to experience the “path of totality” – when the moon completely blocks the sun for about 3 minutes.

The “path of totality” is about 70 miles wide and will sweep eastward from Oregon to South Carolina.  For those viewing within this path, they will experience a total eclipse of the sun.  The sky will become a dark twilight.

The rest of the country will experience a partial eclipse – differing amounts of sunlight loss.

Next Total Solar Eclipse

Incidentally, the last total eclipse of the sun occurred on March, 2016 and could be experienced in Indonesia.  The next total eclipse of the sun will occur in South America, 2019.

For most of us, the Great American Eclipse 2017 will be the only practical opportunity to experience this unique astronomical event.

Solar Retinopathy Can Blind

Staring directly at the sun, including an eclipse, can blind you.  The light rays of the sun are strong enough to burn your macula.  The macula is the most sensitive portion of your retina.

Sun damage can permanently destroy your central vision.  This condition is called solar retinopathy.  There is no cure for solar retinopathy.

Never look or photograph the sun without use of special lenses which have been designed specifically for the sun.

Eclipse Glasses Safely Protect Retina

There is only one safe way to view the sun or eclipse.  The American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Astronomical Society recommend the use of special lens filters, ISO 12312-2, which have been designed for sun viewing.

If your “eclipse glasses” or solar viewers are compliant with the ISO 12312-2 safety standard, you may view the sun or eclipse safely.

These filters are strong enough to block the harmful rays of the sun and are thousands of times stronger than the darkest sunglasses.

The filters are used in “eclipse glasses” and other solar viewers.  I have included a link to known telescope and solar-filter companies that manufacture eclipse glasses and handheld solar viewers.

It may be fun to construct a pinhole camera to indirectly, and safely, view the upcoming eclipse.  A pinhole camera uses simple materials found around the house and can be a fun and inexpensive way to enjoy the total eclipse of the sun.

Randall Wong, M.D.
Retina Specialist
Fairfax, Virginia 22031


Currently, I see patients with retinal diseases; macular degeneration, retinal detachment, macular holes, macular pucker within several different's a different arrangement, but it allows more continuous care with many eye specialists. In addition, I am very accessible via the web. To schedule your own appointment, call any of the numbers below.

Virginia Lasik | Office of Anh Nguyen, M.D.
Randall V. Wong, M.D.
Contact: Layla

A: 431 Park Avenue, Suite 103 • Falls Church, Virginia 22046
Ph: 703.534. 4393
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Dressler Ophthalmology Associates, PLC
Randall V. Wong, M.D.
Contact: Ashley (Surgery/Web)
Chrissy Megargee (Web)

A: 3930 Pender Drive, Suite 10 • Fairfax, Virginia 22030
Ph: 703.273.2398
F: 703.273.0239
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