Most people don’t just want to view a solar eclipse by watching the shadowed light pass through a hole in a piece of paper. Highly visible astronomical events only happen once in a blue moon and people want to see the real thing. If you missed the total solar eclipse in 2017, or you didn’t have the equipment to view it properly, don’t worry. The next one that will cross through the United States will be April 8, 2024, and there’s one visible from the southern hemisphere next year.
Make sure you prepare ahead of time by buying your shaded eclipse glasses now. Not only is there likely to be a shortage when the next eclipse madness hits, alternative lenses aren’t tinted enough to protect your eyes. Eclipse lenses can also help you keep an eye out for other forms of dangerous radiation.
Looking into a solar eclipse isn’t terribly likely to cause full blindness. However, it can cause limited, permanent damage. Depending on how long you directly observe a solar eclipse, you can develop blind spots in the center of your vision. Even though these damaged areas would only make up a small portion of your total vision, it can permanently disable you or get your driving license revoked.
But how does that damage happen?
If you risk a glance at the sun during the course of a normal day, that urge won’t last long. The light is so bright you’ll almost immediately have to close your eyes or look away. And that’s not a challenge. That’s the blink reflex doing its job. We register too bright of light as unpleasant and dangerous, so our eyes and brains work together to prevent that damage. But during an event like a total solar eclipse, everything is dim. That makes staring at the sun a lot more bearable.
The real damage, when your eyes’ photoreceptors are being destroyed, doesn’t require visible light. There also aren’t any nerves in your eyes to tell your brain that there’s something dangerous through a pain signal. So you’re far more likely to look at a source of harmful radiation for far too long, and you won’t know to look away until the damage has already been done.
Usually, you’ll get your first warning the following day. Unexpected blurriness, bright spots, and black spots are potential symptoms of retinal damage. The damage may be permanent, or it may fade away during the course of a year. Either way, your retinas could have been saved by a pair of $30 glasses.
Sunglasses have an easy time of things. They’re usually blocking reflected light instead of direct waves. While your eastward morning commute may be something you squint at even though your glasses, even lightly tinted and polarized lenses can protect your retina.
But welding glasses are ultra-strength protection. They get graded on tint and shadiness, as well as their ability to stand up to physical harm. While you might not need a full face mask during the next eclipse, NASA warns against thinking that sunglasses are enough protection.
They also warn against the idea that anything but the strongest welding glasses are enough, either.
Just like all tinted lenses, welding safety glasses come in varying degrees of darkness. When people were preparing for the 2017 eclipse, consumers bought out many stores’ inventory of shade 14 and dark welding glasses. That meant many people who still wanted to see the eclipse chose less safe methods, such as general welding glasses, sunglasses, or no protection at all. Most eye protection used by professional welders are only up to shade 10 or 11. Any stronger and the darkness gets in the way of detailed work.
However, NASA issued a warning that only shade 14 lenses offered enough protection. These specialty lenses usually aren’t available in shops, so it’s important to plan ahead of time if you want to view the next eclipse in your area.
The right eclipse eyewear isn’t just strongly tinted. You should also look for lenses that give you plenty of coverage. The larger your protective lenses, the less likely your eyes are to come into contact with damaging radiation. The largest threat to your vision is the direct light that passes through your eye when you look directly at the eclipse. However, indirect radiation can still cause lasting damage and sensitivity. That’s why our glasses come with wide lenses.
Whenever you’re buying safety equipment, it’s important to know the details. Just like shade 10 and 11 is not adequate protection while shade 14 is, all of the other numbers and codes can tell you important information about when these glasses are appropriate.
IR radiation is infrared light. The visible spectrum of light isn’t the only radiation that can hurt your eyes. In fact, the invisible infrared radiation is what causes the potential retinal damage you’re trying to avoid. So look for lenses that block 97% of IR radiation or more.
Athermal lenses are designed to resist radiation without resulting in image quality loss. After all, you don’t want to view a solar eclipse through lenses that block most of the details from sight or lets too much heat to transmit to your eyes. Green shade 14 solar eclipse glasses are also designed for some welding applications, so heat is more of a risk.
Tinted lenses provide more protection than dim lenses under different circumstances, and different colors have a wide range of benefits. Green lenses help reduce the danger of sudden light flares or scattered light.
No matter where you’re going to be during the next solar eclipse, don’t look up unless you know your eyes are protected. Even a glance or two can cause long-lasting damage. As cool as eclipses are, keeping your eyes safe and your vision intact is more important. Go to MyEyewear2Go.com to get your glasses ahead of schedule.
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