Viewing the solar eclipse: The blind truth

Viewing the solar eclipse: The blind truth
Viewing the solar eclipse: The blind truth

They look like 3-D glasses that you use at the movies but they're not. They are special glasses to view the eclipse. And if you don't buy ones that are approved, you could have a big problem.

"As you can see, that yellow band that goes across the United States is the path of totality," Steven Kates said.

Kates has been involved in astronomy for three decades and is known in the Valley as "Dr. Sky." So, 3 On Your Side wanted to get his thoughts on the upcoming eclipse.

"So many people may be getting the wrong information even at this late hour," Dr. Sky said.

To view the eclipse safely, you need a special filter. There are filters made for binoculars and telescopes. We even used one on our camera.

But the key is you should have protective eyewear and that's why manufacturers are busy cranking out safety glasses for interested consumers. But you have to get a very specific kind.

"They're called ISO 12312-2," Dr. Sky said.

You have to make sure there's an ISO certification printed on the inside of the solar glasses which basically means they're approved and safe to view the eclipse. However, Dr. Sky says don't get ripped off when looking to buy a pair.

"There may be the possibility of fake, and I use that word generally, fake solar glasses," Dr. Sky said.

And according to the American Astronomical Society, some companies are trying to trick consumers by printing the ISO icon on "fake solar glasses."

"Shame on them," Dr. Sky said.

If you use glasses not approved to view the eclipse, you can permanently damage your eyes in a matter of seconds.

"That's true, even just a casual glance or if you're wearing the solar eclipse glasses but they fall off, even that can be really damaging," Dr. Anita Schadlu said.

Schadlu is a retina specialist here in the Valley.

She says a person who looks at the solar eclipse without the proper eyewear puts themselves at risk for something called solar retinopathy.

"This yellow spot right here shows someone who has damage from solar retinopathy or staring at the sun, and you can imagine that would cause a blind spot right in the center of the vision," Dr. Schadlu said.

And Dr. Schadlu says the severity of the damage can vary.

"The degree of damage really just depends on how long somebody looks at the solar eclipse for even a few seconds can cause permanent damage," Dr. Schadlu said.

Click here for information from NASA about reputable vendors of solar filters and viewers.

And for additional information regarding the Solar Eclipse visit NASA.