Dr. Ming Wang, Harvard & MIT (MD, magna cum laude); PhD (laser physics), answers important questions about how to safely view the solar eclipse:
Can I use my cell phone, to take a photo or a video, of the eclipse, or can I use a telescope?
Yes, but only if you do it in the right way.
First of all, camera or telescope actually concentrate, focus and amplify light intensity, hence, looking through these devices with naked eyes is, in fact, more dangerous than the naked eyes themselves.
The proper way to do it is to put the proper solar eclipse glasses IN FRONT OF the camera or telescope (i.e., the solar eclipse glasses are closer to the sun), and do not put the solar eclipse glasses directly on your face (and then look through your cell phone or telescope)
What will be symptoms, of solar eye damage and when do they typically occur?
They typically occur within a few minutes or hours. The symptoms are:
Watery and sore eyes.
A blind spot in the center
Things appear usually colored
Things appear to be distorted and blurry.
Cannot see details.
What should I do then?
See an ophthalmologist or optometrist, right away, since you may have suffered solar eye damage.
If I do, it is permanent?
Some are transient (resolving in 3-4 weeks), some (partial) sight loss can be permanent.
Can I just use my regular sunglasses?
No, they do not offer sufficient sun radiation protection since your regular sunglasses are designed for you to look INDIRECT sun rays REFLECTED from surfaces such as the road while you are driving. They are not designed, for you to safely look DIRECTLY AT the sun.
If I do use the proper eclipse glasses (ISO 12312-2, meeting international safety standard), can I look at the sun for extended period of time?
No. Even with the proper sun eclipse glasses on, you should only look at the sun for a very short duration (few seconds), and then, you have to turn your head away, rest for a while and then you can turn your head towards the sun again.
How can I make sure that my kids are following the proper instruction about how to use the eclipse glasses?
You should put a pair of ISO 12312-2 solar eclipse glasses on them, first, and then, put them on for yourself, and then, ask your kids to do exactly what you will do.
What should I exactly do then?
Put the sun eclipse glasses on.
Turn towards the sun, but for only a few seconds.
WHILE you are stilling wearing your solar eclipse glasses, turn your head away, and ONLY AFTER you have already turned your head away should you remove the solar eclipse glasses. Namely, please do not remove the solar eclipse glasses while you are still looking at the sun.
When can I actually look at the sun for more than few seconds each time, assuming I do wear ISO 12312-2 solar eclipse glasses.
You can look at the sun, for longer than a few seconds each time, ONLY during TOTAL solar eclipse (1:27pm-1:29pm, Mon 8/21, for Nashville).
How can I make sure that my solar eclipse glasses are in a proper shape to be used?
Labelled ISO 12312-2
Less than 3 years old.
No scratch or damage on them.
What about my dogs and cat?
Keep them away from exposing to the solar eclipse altogether.
Does having had LASIK or cataract surgery (with UV-protecting IOL) help?
I have not had LASIK, and I am wearing glasses, can I look at the sun with my glasses?
No. One should not view the solar eclipse through just regular glasses. In fact, if you do wear glasses, since you have to put the solar eclipse glasses on top of your regular glasses, this results in the situation in which now your solar eclipse glasses are further away from your face, increasing the chance of solar radiation reach your naked eyes from the side. So in that sense, having had LASIK (and hence you are no longer wearing glasses) does offer slight advantage since you now can put the solar eclipse glasses directly on your face, minimizing the side gap.
How can I get more info, so my family members and I can get a proper instruction on how to use the solar eclipse glasses? And where can I get them?
There are four companies in the US that make and sell the solar eclipse glasses that meet the international safety standard ISO 12312-2. Many of them are in back orders right now, since total solar eclipse is so rare (once in our lifetime), so people are buying them like crazy. At Wang Vision Institute, we have ordered and will be getting some solar eclipse glasses and will give a FREE pair to each attendee at our 8/17 Thurs 6:30 pm public solar eclipse educational seminar. At the seminar, I will also explain and demonstrate stepwise the proper way of using these glasses, as well as answer all of the udience’s questions about safe solar eclipse viewing and prevention of eye injuries and sight loss. To register for the eclipse seminar and to receive the FREE pair of solar eclipse glasses, visit www.wangcataractLASIK.com, or call 615-321-8881, or email firstname.lastname@example.org