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Rosholt EclipseHave you heard the news? A total solar eclipse is quickly approaching! This Monday, August 21, the majority of the United States will have a clear view of both total and partial eclipses (for the first time in 38 years.)

Although we are also excited to witness the nighttime wonder, we have several concerns that deserve addressing. Here at Lions Pride, you likely already know that we support one of the WLF’s largest projects; early child’s vision screening. So, it should come as no surprise that we’d want to do everything we can to educate our readers on how to view the eclipse safely.

Unfortunately, in Wisconsin, we will not have the opportunity to see a total eclipse, but we will still have an out-of-this-world view. But since the sun will not be completed covered, it’s important to remember that it is not safe to view directly with your naked eye. There are several types of solar filter glasses available (not to be mistaken for sunglasses,) but even these special glasses have certain risks.

The most critical case to keep in mind that most of these glasses are made with adults in mind, will likely not fit children properly and should not be used without adult supervision. Plus, if the solar glasses do not completely filter out 100% of the sun’s harmful UV rays, if they are not used absolutely perfectly or should there be any manufacturing defects, this will result in permanent and irreversible vision loss.

Dr. Michael Schecter, an optometrist in Columbus, Ohio, makes another important point about viewing the eclipse with kids:

“The biggest danger with children is ensuring proper use without direct parental supervision. During an eclipse, because the moon blocks so much of its light, if one looks at it without full protection, it does not cause pain as looking at the sun does on a regular day.Generally, if you try to look at the sun, it physically hurts, and you can’t see anything. During an eclipse, however, it is easier to stare for a bit, and even less than 30 seconds of exposure to a partially eclipsed sun, you can burn a blind spot right to your most precious central vision. With solar glasses, you can’t see anything except the crescent of light of the sun, but kids could have a tendency to want to peak around the filter to see what is actually going on up there. One failure, just one, where education and supervision fail, will have a devastating consequence.”

If you plan to view the solar eclipse on Monday, please do so safely. Sadly, one wrong move could result in a lifetime of vision loss that may not be immediately felt. If you do not have proper protection, please watch it on television. Lions Pride wants you to remember to protect and preserve your gift of sight.