Solar eclipse eyesight warning

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Authored by Mary
Posted: Thursday, March 19, 2015 - 23:58

Devon Local Optical Committee and the Optometry group at the School of Health Professions at Plymouth University are warning people to exercise caution when viewing the solar eclipse.

The solar eclipse will take place on Friday 20th March 2015 and, dependent on location, people will see a partial eclipse, with up to 97% of the sun blocked out.

Whilst a solar eclipse is an amazing and infrequent event, the public must remember that they should not look directly at the sun or at a solar eclipse either with the naked eye, even if dark filters such as sunglasses or photographic negatives are used, nor through optical equipment such as cameras, binoculars or telescopes.

There is no safe system to directly view an eclipse. Viewing the sun in such ways may lead to retinal burns which can cause significant and sometimes permanent loss of sight.

By following the College of Optometrists’ advice, members of the public will be able to enjoy this rare event without causing unnecessary harm:


  • Don’t look directly at the sun, even with sunglasses on – they don’t offer enough protection
  • Don’t watch it directly through a telescope, binoculars, camera or camera-phone. Even if you are just lining up the projection, this still puts you at risk


  • Use a pinhole projection method. This involves putting a hole in a piece of cardboard, and holding the cardboard up – with your back to the sun – so that an image of the sun is projected onto another piece of paper or card. This works well using a cardboard box, and will allow you to see the progress of the eclipse without damaging your eyes
  • Use glasses with specially designed solar filters (bearing the appropriate CE mark) if you have to view the eclipse directly.

Particular care should be taken with children. Children should not be allowed to look directly at the sun at any time.