Consumer Reports: How to Watch the Eclipse Safely

Photo: Will Clemente
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For 2 minutes and 43 seconds on August 21st, many Americans will have the chance to take in one nature’s greatest shows. But with all of the excitement around the astronomical event, it might be easy to overlook the health risks involved with staring at the sun.

That very bright light can actually do damage if you stare at the sun. It causes a condition called solar retinopathy. What happens is there’s an irreversible damage to the retina, so you have a blind spot.

Simplest way to protect yourself? Eclipse glasses - which have special solar filters that make it safe to look directly at the sun. Consumer Reports recommends ones labeled with the safety code ISO 12312-2, which designates the international standard for solar filters. There have been cases of counterfeits sold with this code on it, so make sure to buy them from a reputable vendor listed on the American Astronomical Society’s website.

Remember, the timing of when the eclipse will happen is dependent on where you live. You can go to NASA’s website to get the exact eclipse time in your area. And if you haven’t yet purchased a pair of eclipse glasses, don’t wait much longer. Supply is dropping but you can still order them online from a few sellers and get them in time. For more on eclipse viewing safety and recommended eclipse glasses, check out Consumer Reports.org.