Eye Safety Reminders for the Solar Eclipse

On Monday, Aug. 21, the Seattle area will experience a partial solar eclipse, where the moon covers part of the sun’s disk. When the moon covers the entire solar disk it is called a total eclipse. While Seattle is not in the “path of totality,” or where the total eclipse will be visible, the last time anyone saw a total eclipse from the mainland United States was 1979!

employee eclipse article

First-person account from a 1979 Virginia Mason newsletter.

As we prepare for one of nature’s most exciting sights, ophthalmologist Connie Chen, MD, a retina specialist, offers these reminders about eye safety:

  • Looking at the sun without appropriate eye protection is dangerous for the eyes, and sunglasses are not effective for viewing the solar eclipse. Even the darkest sunglasses don’t reduce the amount of light hitting the back of your eye (the retina) by that much.
  • The optics of our eyes leave us vulnerable – think of them as magnifying glasses focusing the sun’s energy on the retinas – potentially causing permanent vision damage. Because the retinas don’t have pain receptors, you won’t feel the damage being done.
  • Since the Seattle area will only be experiencing a partial eclipse, you must always use solar filters to view the eclipse (such as those found in certified viewing glasses) when viewing the sun directly.
  • Information about certified eclipse glasses with solar filters, labeled with the ISO 12312-12 international safety standard, can be found here.
  • Children viewing the eclipse are particularly susceptible to retinal damage as glasses are not typically fitted for smaller faces, not to mention a stronger temptation to peek around the glasses. Children must be supervised carefully.

For more information, please visit the American Academy of Ophthalmology website.


  1. M Zwiebel says:

    Thankyou for this info. I will pass it on to family members.

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