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Published on Tuesday, March 26, 2024

GBPH advises residents to protect their visual health during solar eclipse

Grey Bruce Public Health is urging residents to resist the temptation to look directly at the sun during the upcoming solar eclipse and take steps to safeguard their visual health during this relatively rare celestial event.

On April 8, 2024, parts of southern and eastern Ontario will experience a total solar eclipse for the first time since 1925. Grey-Bruce will be outside of the so-called Path of Totality – a narrow area where the moon will completely block out the sun – but will still experience a partial eclipse.

The eclipse is expected to begin at about 2 p.m. and continue until 4:30 p.m. The eclipse will peak around 3:20 p.m.

It is never safe to stare directly at the sun, but it may be tempting to do so during a solar eclipse.

Looking directly at the sun during an eclipse can cause retinal burns, blurred vision, and/or temporary or permanent loss of visual function, according to the Ontario Association of Optometrists.

Damage to the eyes can occur without any sensation of pain.

Grey Bruce Public Health advises the following:

  • Do not look directly at the sun without proper eye protection during the solar eclipse. Looking at even a small sliver of the sun before or after the eclipse without proper eye protection can harm vision.
  • Keep a close eye on children and other vulnerable family members during the eclipse to ensure they do not inadvertently look up at the sun without proper eye protection.
  • To safely view the eclipse, ISO-certified eclipse glasses that meet the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard must be worn. Ensure these glasses are in good condition, without any wrinkles or scratches, and that they fully cover the entire field of vision. Put on the glasses when looking away from the sun, then look at the eclipse. Look away from the sun before taking the glasses off.
  • Regular sunglasses or homemade filters will not protect the eyes.
  • It is not safe to view the eclipse through a camera/phone lens, telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device.

Other ways to safely experience the solar eclipse include watching a livestream of the event or creating and using an eclipse box or pinhole projector.

Anyone experiencing temporary vision loss or blurred vision during or after the eclipse should speak with their eye care professional or healthcare provider as soon as possible.

Anyone experiencing blindness (immediate or delayed) after viewing the eclipse must seek emergency care immediately.

More information on the upcoming eclipse is available on GBPH’s website.

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