Solar Eclipse Safety

On Monday, April 8, 2024, there will be a solar eclipse visible in Waterloo Region. It will last two and a half hours, starting at 2:03 p.m. The peak will occur at 3:18 p.m and it will end at 4:30 p.m. That’s when most of the sun’s light will be covered by the moon.

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon moves between the sun and the earth. It is dangerous to look directly at the sun at any time, but it is especially dangerous during an eclipse. Looking at the sun can harm your eyes and even cause permanent damage and loss of sight  

How to protect your eyes during a solar eclipse

  • Do not look directly at the eclipse at all. Find alternative, safe ways to view the eclipse like a livestream. 

  • If you choose to view the eclipse, use only safe solar eclipse viewers that meet international standard ISO 12312-2. If using safe solar eclipse viewers: 

    • Read and follow all manufacturers' directions.  

    • Do not use viewers that are damaged, wrinkled, or have punctures or scratches. 

    • Help children use the viewers correctly and provide adult supervision. 

  • Keep a close eye on children during a solar eclipse. Their eyes let in more light to the retina than adult eyes, so they are at higher risk of harm if they look at the sun without proper eye protection. 

  • Do not use homemade filters, sunglasses, camera lenses, smoked glass, photographic or x-ray film, or other things that are not specifically made for viewing eclipses. This includes devices used in combination with a binocular or telescope to view a solar eclipse. 

  • Do not use a viewer or filter that makes the sun look too bright, out of focus or hazy through the device. 

  • Do not use the viewer or filter if you’re unsure about its safety or if it is not from a reputable vendor. 

Dangers of viewing a solar eclipse without proper eye protection

Staring at the sun without protection may cause solar retinopathy, which is damage to your retina (the tissue at the back of your eye). Your retinas do not have pain sensors to signal to you that they are being damaged from staring at the sun.

Symptoms of solar retinopathy may only show up 12 to 48 hours later. This could involve retinal burns, temporary or permanent vision loss, and blurred vision. Unfortunately, once symptoms start, it is usually too late to reverse any resulting damage.

If you experience any changes in your vision following the solar eclipse, go to a hospital or your optometrist to be assessed. Do not drive.

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