How to keep your eyes safe during the solar eclipse

Photography tips also key for eye safety

Eclipse eye safety

BEND, Ore. - The August 21st total solar eclipse will be the first one to cross from the West Coast to the East Coast since 1918, but it can be dangerous to your eyes if you don't wear or have the proper eye protection.

When the total solar eclipse passes over Central Oregon that morning, thousands of people will be looking up, directly into the sun, but it's not the 2 minutes and 2 seconds of totality that's dangerous, optometrist Terry Steckman said Wednesday, 

"The damage can actually occur as you're leading up to the total eclipse and you're receding from the total eclipse" Steckman said. "There's only one point when it's safe to look at the sun, and that's when the moon is completely covering the sun -- totality." 

You could cause major damage to your eyes if you don't wear the correct sunglasses during the eclipse.

"If you look at the sun in an unprotected fashion, retina burns can lead to serious loss of vision and even blindness." Steckman added. 

Currently there are four manufacturers selling certified eclipse glasses; Rainbow Symphony, American Paper Optics, Thousand Oaks Optical and TSE 17.

But it's important to know you'll need protection, even if you plan on hiding behind a camera lens.

If you're using a smartphone to take photos, experts advise that you keep your eclipse glasses on, and know that the direct sunlight could cause damage to your phone as well.

It's also recommended that you don't look through any sort of camera lens, binoculars or telescope without having a filtered lens, explained professional photographer Jeff Murray,

"It's basically sunglasses for your camera, where you're darkening up what's in the scene, but it doesn't add or take away any color," he said. "So it makes it that the brightness of the sun is toned down a little, so I can have an accurate exposure."

Another important group of people to remember are kids, Steckman said,

"I really encourage parents to be conscious of their kids," he said. "Kids are going to be fascinated by the event, they're not going to know the risks. So parents need to be aware to make sure not only their eyes are protected, but their children's eyes are protected, too."

If you would like to get a certified pair of eclipse glasses, you can check out these websites:

And you can see all of our eclipse reporting, plus interactive maps, at our special Eclipse 2017 section.

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