On Monday, August 21st many people in Southeast Virginia and throughout the country will be viewing The Great American Total Solar Eclipse. On this day, the moon will pass directly between the Earth and the sun, and as it does so it casts a great shadow on the Earth. The last total solar eclipse viewed in the United States was on Feb. 26, 1979. The next annular solar eclipse that can be seen in the continental United States will be on October 14, 2023. So there is good reason for many to want to enjoy this amazing event. Many businesses, school, and organization are hosting viewing parties to help everyone join in the fun. However, it is important to understand and take extreme caution when attempting to view the eclipse this Monday.
What Damage Could Occur
Looking directly at the eclipse can cause severe and irreversible damage to your eyes. The condition is called solar retinopathy. This occurs when bright light from the sun floods the retina on the back of the eye. The retina is home to the light-sensing cells that make vision possible. When they're overstimulated by sunlight, they release a flood of communication chemicals that can damage the retina. This damage is often painless, so people don't realize what they're doing to their vision. Many people may not realize the danger involved in watching even a partial eclipse if the eyes are not protected by special solar eclipse eyewear.
How To Protect Yourself
As noted by the experts at Space.com and ISO.org, when it comes to solar-eclipse glasses and other solar viewers, it's important to ensure that the product you're using is safe and effective at blocking harmful radiation from the sun. Just because something looks like suitable eye protection doesn't mean it's safe to use. Even if a product is advertised as a solar viewer, it's important to look for a label that says ISO, which stands for the International Organization for Standardization.
The ISO is an independent organization that writes safety and quality standards for all kinds of things, including eyewear, health care, food production and more based on a broad consensus of the scientific community. If you find eclipse glasses or other solar viewers that aren't labeled ISO, then they aren't guaranteed to protect your eyes the way they should.
ISO-approved solar-eclipse glasses must meet certain safety requirements:
- No more than 0.00032 percent of the sun's light may be transmitted through the filters.
- The filters must be free of any defects, such as scratches, bubbles, and dents.
- Handheld viewers must be large enough to cover both eyes.
- Labels on the viewers (or packaging) must include the name of the manufacturer, instructions for safe use and warnings of the dangers of improper use.
Taking Extra Precaution
Some manufacturers of the solar glasses that are now on the market are making false claims to the safety of their glasses. Those who view the eclipse and are wearing solar eclipse glasses that are certified to protect the eyes by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) should not have any problem. NASA is referring companies that have not been approved to ICS Laboratories, which performs testing on uncertified solar eclipse glasses to ensure that they perform to the acceptable standards. The Astronomical Society of the Pacific is also offering tips on viewing the total eclipse safely.
At Williams and DeLoatche we hope that everyone has a safe and enjoyable time viewing the eclipse. We realize that there are companies that sell defective products that can cause harm. Your eyes are too important and no one should jeopardize your safety. As personal injury lawyers, we have experience with product liability lawsuits and can help by explaining your options and with recovering damages if you find yourself injured as a result of defective products. We have the thorough knowledge and expertise you may need. When you call with questions, you will speak directly to an experienced lawyer (757) 547-5555.