Solar Eclipse Eye Safety

Solar Eclipse Eye Safety

By Robert I. Park, MD

On August 21, many of us living in Western North Carolina will have the rare opportunity to see a full solar eclipse.  A total solar eclipse occurs when the sun is completely blocked by the moon.  Daylight turns into a deep twilight sky and a truly beautiful scene occurs as you are able to see the sun’s corona, or the outer atmosphere of the sun.  Many stars and planets become more visible during this phenomenon, while the sun appears to look like a halo in the sky.

As we enjoy one of nature’s truly magnificent events, we must be careful to protect our eyes from sun damage.  The eclipse will be gorgeous, but it is important to remember that the sun is quite intense and unprotected viewing can lead to permanent damage to our eyes.  Staring at the sun for even a short amount of time can cause permanent damage to our retinas.

As we view the eclipse, follow these important precautions:

  1. Do not look at the sun directly without sun viewing glasses. During the brief full coverage of the sun (totality) it is possible to look directly at the sun safely without glasses, but before and after the totality protective sun viewing glasses must be worn.
  2. Do not look at the sun using regular sunglasses, cameras, telescopes, or other optical devices. Permanent eye damage or blindness can occur in seconds!
  3. Use glasses designed specifically for sun viewing before and after the totality. Four companies that sell sun viewing glasses that meet the international standard (ISO 12312-2) recommended by NASA, the AAS and other scientific organizations are Rainbow Symphony, American Paper Optics, Thousand Oaks Optical and TSE 17.
  4. For further information about the eclipse and safe viewing, go to the NASA website:

Please join us for the Henderson County Eclipse Viewing Party!  This celebration will be held at the Historic Henderson County Courthouse on 8/21/17, from 1:00 PM-3:00 PM.  Carolina Ophthalmology, in conjunction with Historic Downtown Hendersonville, will provide free eclipse viewing glasses to the first 500 people.  Henderson County Parks and Recreation will provide free popcorn, while supplies last.  The event will include music, food, and fun.  We will also participate in the Polk County Solar Eclipse Viewing Party.  This event will be held at Harmon Field on 8/21/17, from 11:00 AM-3:00 PM.  Be sure and find us at one of these local parties!  Let’s enjoy nature’s spectacle safely and take home only good memories.  The next solar eclipse that will viewable from the United States won’t occur until April 18, 2024.

About Robert I Park, MD and Carolina Ophthalmology, PA: 

Dr. Robert I. Park specializes in diseases and surgery of the retina and vitreous.  He has special interest in the causes of and new treatments for diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and retinal detachments. He has been practicing in Western North Carolina for over ten years. Carolina Ophthalmology was founded in 1980 and since that time has grown to become one of the foremost ophthalmic centers in the country with offices located in Hendersonville, Asheville and Columbus, and satellite locations in Franklin and Spruce Pine, NC. Collectively, their doctors have over eighty (80) years of experience serving the people of Western North Carolina.  To schedule an appointment with one of their qualified surgeons or for more information, please call 800-624-6575 or visit their website at

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