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    Top 5 ways to help your patients safely view the solar eclipse


    1. Solar shield (direct method)

    “Appropriate solar shields made for eclipse viewing are safe and effective for direct viewing of the solar eclipse,” says Jessica Haynes, OD, FAAO, of Germantown, TN. “These devices should be clearly labeled as safe for direct sun viewing.”

    Solar shields should not be confused with “solar shield” fitover or wraparound sunglasses, which are not safe for viewing the solar eclipse, says Dr. Haynes.

    The Eclipse Shades Solar Shield uses polymer filters to transmit a truer light orange image of the sun when viewing the solar eclipse. The lens is mounted inside of a laminated board holder with a viewing opening of 2 inches by 4 inches.

    Related: Sunlight and its effect on eye health

    Another solar shield option is a welder’s shield, which is a piece of glass that fits into the front of a welder’s helmet to protect the eyes.

    “Three decades ago there was a total solar eclipse that was centered near Birmingham, AL, and my friends wanted to know how to look at it directly,” says Dr. Semes. “Of course, the guidance was to use an indirect method. My research led me to suggest a No. 12 welder's shield to appropriately attenuate the solar intensity. To be safe, we used a No. 14, which is now part of a recommendation from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).”

    Welder’s shields can be purchased from a welding supply store and are roughly 2 inches by 6 inches.  For eclipse viewing, this item must be held close to the eyes, says Dr. Semes.

    Up next: Eclipse glasses (direct method)

    Giovanni Castelli
    Giovanni Castelli is the content specialist for Optometry Times. He is a 2014 graduate of Cleveland State University with a degree in ...


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