Ahead of the annular solar eclipse this Saturday, October 14, the Texas Optometric Association (TOA) is sharing tips and information to help Texans prepare for this extremely rare event.
During an annular eclipse, the moon will pass over the sun creating a “ring of fire” visual for those within the eclipse’s path. The eclipse will pass over Texas between 11:30 a.m. and 12 p.m., with the “ring of fire” beginning at 11:41 a.m. The eclipse will last for a few seconds to up to five minutes depending on where it is viewed.
“We are lucky here in Central Texas to be in the line of the 2023 solar eclipse, but we must view carefully and safely,” said Kumar Patel, OD., President-Elect of TOA. “Texans run the risk of temporary or permanent eye damage, also known as ‘eclipse blindness’ from viewing the solar eclipse unsafely, and many times people don’t know that damage has happened until much later.”
See below for ways to safely watch a solar eclipse, per Prevent Blindness:
Solar Eclipse Glasses: Use expert-approved solar eclipse glasses to view a solar eclipse safely and without damaging your eyes. Make sure they meet safety requirements and are manufactured with the ISO 12312-2 standard. Look for ISO standard labeling when looking for solar eclipse glasses and purchase them from a trusted source.
Pinhole projection: This is the safest and most inexpensive way to watch a solar eclipse. This helps you avoid looking directly at the eclipse by using a projected image. This DIY project includes making a pinhole in cardboard paper with the sun on one side and a piece of paper three feet away without obstruction to project the image on the other side. Keep in mind not to look through the pinhole at the sun.
Welder’s glass: Number 14 welder’s glass provides effective protection and can be found at a local welder’s supply store. This glass will reduce the harmful rays that are emitted during the eclipse. Do not use if there are any scratches or damage to the glass.
Mylar filters: Aluminized mylar plastic sheets are available as eclipse vision glasses or can be cut and made into a viewing box. Do not use if there are any scratches or damage to the sheet.
See below for what to AVOID when viewing a solar eclipse:
Do NOT use your smartphone: Watching a solar eclipse on your smartphone camera can put you at risk of accidentally looking at the sun when trying to line up your camera. It could possibly also damage your smartphone camera.
Do NOT use your camera viewfinder: Never look at a solar eclipse through the optical viewfinder of a camera. It can damage your eyes in the same way as looking directly at it.
Do NOT use unsafe filters: Unless specifically designed for viewing a solar eclipse, no filter is safe to use with any optical device (telescopes, binoculars, etc.). All color film, black-and-white film that contains no silver, photographic negatives with images on them (x-rays and snapshots), smoked glass, sunglasses (single or multiple pairs), photographic neutral density filters and polarizing filters are unsafe filters to watch a solar eclipse. Solar filters designed for eyepieces that come with inexpensive telescopes are also unsafe.
For more information or to connect with a doctor of optometry in your region about the 2023 solar eclipse, please get in touch with Cara Gustafson at the contact info above.