Protect your eyes when looking at the solar eclipse - Smart Vision Labs explains how

How to Safely View the Solar Eclipse

Quite Literally “Blinded by the Light”

Remember growing up when you would always be told to never look directly at the sun without wearing sunglasses? Well, I hope you listened to that advice. There are endless studies proving that eye exposure to direct sunlight can lead to solar retinopathy and serious eye damage. When you expose your eyes to direct sunlight, it burns holes in light-sensitive photoreceptor cells that can cause irreversible damage and even blindness. Think burning leaves using a magnifying glass (or ants if you were that kid growing up…) but only multiple times more intense. With the solar eclipse coming up in about a month, it’s crucial to remember that if you’re planning to watch one of nature’s most incredible phenomena, you must remember to protect your eyes when doing so, at least for the majority of the eclipse. And no – your everyday sunglasses will not suffice in this scenario.

According to NASA and other optometry and ophthalmology organizations, it is okay to look directly at the solar eclipse with the naked eye only when the sun is fully covered by the moon, the moment of a total solar eclipse. For the upcoming eclipse on August 21st, NASA claims that this full coverage will last 2 minutes and 40 seconds. During those moments, the day will turn to night and the sun’s outer atmosphere will be visible with the naked eye. Definitely, something you won’t want to miss. The duration of the partial eclipse is expected to last from 2 to 3 hours and will be visible from all parts of the U.S. The total eclipse, however, will only be visible to those on what’s called the “path of totality”, extending from Oregon to South Carolina. But in order to watch the entire eclipse, you must first know how to view it safely.

3 Options to Safely View the Solar Eclipse

Option 1: Do not – I repeat – do NOT think you can wear your everyday sunglasses to watch this. Instead, wear solar eclipse glasses or use handheld eclipse viewers to ensure full protection. Yes, you’ll look like you just walked out of a 3D movie, but you’re not trying to make a fashion statement here.

Option 2: If you don’t get around to purchasing a pair of eclipse glasses/viewers, consider using what’s called a pinhole projection with your hands. With your back to the sun, spread your fingers apart, and create a crossing pattern with both hands. The small spaces between your fingers will create a projection of images on the ground. During the partial eclipse, you’ll be able to see the sun’s crescent shapes. But again, make sure your back is to the sun. Let me just reemphasize that, this does NOT mean interlocking your fingers and holding them up to look directly at the sun. Let’s try to follow these directions. You’ll thank us later.

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Option 3: Use a solar eclipse lens or filter over your camera, binoculars, or telescope. Looking directly through one of these devices without a solar lens/filter will result in eye damage. In fact, they actually even further magnify the light rays on the retina and can lead to worse damage than just looking at the eclipse with your naked eye. Let’s try to avoid that.

How to view the solar eclipse and what not to do - Smart Vision Labs

Whichever option you choose, make sure to follow this advice to protect your eyes. In the U.S., this is the first solar eclipse since 1257 that has only touched American soil. But if you’re looking to travel, total solar eclipses occur about every 18 months around the world. So be sure to follow these safety tips to make sure that your eyes will be healthy and fully prepared to watch the next one.

Issy Bonebrake is a born-again New Yorker living down in the Village. She considers herself to be a self-proclaimed, cautiously optimistic futurist. As a classic rock aficionado, she enjoys binge watching rockumentaries from the coziness of her less than 500 square footage apartment. Issy is remarkably unenthused by space phenomena.

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Do Sunglasses Make You More Attractive Protect Your Eyes from UV Rays - Smart Vision Labs

Do Sunglasses Make You More Attractive While Protecting Your Eyes?

Sunglasses are way more than just an accessory. Did you know they shield your eyes from sun damage while they make you more attractive?

Now that you’re paying attention, read on to see how (and why you should wear sunglasses anyway).

Looking Cool is not the Only Benefit

The whole reason we even need a pair of sunglasses is due to the existence of ultraviolet radiation. You probably know this as “UV rays.” The sun itself, not just the light, is our main exposure to these. What this means is that your eyes are picking up UV rays even on cloudy days.

UVA, UVB, and UVC rays combine to make what we consider UV rays. You need sunglasses for the first two. Cataracts and photokeratitis (sunburn on your cornea) are two serious eye problems directly related to UVB exposure. This alone should be enough to make you put sunglasses on but there are also UVA rays to worry about. These are linked to retina damage, causing loss of central vision. Whereas UVB rays are largely absorbed by your lens and cornea, UVA rays actually get inside your eye. Don’t forget, UVB rays are still considered the most dangerous.

What to Look for

Good thing you don’t have to choose which one to protect yourself from. There are a few things to look out for when picking out a pair of sunglasses. The first and most important is that they should block 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays.

They should also screen 75 to 90 percent of visible light (which is different than protecting from UV rays). The lenses should seem identical, in both color and in lacking imperfections.

Darker does not Equal More Protection

The color of the lens has nothing to do with how much UV protection lenses provide. In fact, early versions of sunglasses were dark but blocked no UV rays.

Reducing the light while looking at something is why the very first pair of sunglasses was invented. At around the 12th century in China, smoked quartz “lenses” were held up to the eyes to block some of the bright sun. Although they didn’t block UV rays, they did hide the wearer’s emotions. Might this last reason be why they were popular with both the very rich and judges in court?

Sunglasses Make You More Attractive

Here’s the part you were waiting for. Celebrities aren’t just using oversized sunglasses or reflective aviators to hide from the paparazzi. There are two reasons explaining why we are better looking with sunglasses on.

They fix our facial symmetry. When you have on a pair of big sunglasses which protects not only your eyes, but half your face from the sun, you also hide any facial asymmetry. Science has linked facial symmetry with how attractive we perceive someone to be. As we tend to look at people’s eyes, we notice asymmetry there first. Sunglasses cover these up, making us appear more symmetrical, and more attractive.

The second has to do with those Chinese judges. They hide our eyes which reveal our emotions, giving us an air of mystery. This draws people in because they want to solve the “puzzle” of our emotions. (The judges used them to discuss issues in court without their emotions betraying their true feelings, allowing them to appear impartial.)

Health and appearance benefits? Ready to sign up? Start with a vision test to see if you would benefit from prescription sunglasses.

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