The upcoming eclipse will be spectacular—but watch your eyes!

Mar 21, 2024

By Dr. Robert Ford, Chief of Optometry, Oak Orchard Health

As you may know by now, a rare total solar eclipse will happen Monday, April 8, 2024, and the Western New York region is one of the best places to experience it. Our region is in the path of totality—a narrow band of area across Earth where the moon briefly covers all but a thin disk of sunlight around its edges. The excitement begins at 2:07 p.m., when the moon begins to cover the sun, at 3:20 p.m., the total eclipse will begin and last for about 3 minutes. It is a spectacular moment to witness as day turns into night in a matter of seconds and the stars begin to shine.

The dark side of looking at the sun

The only safe way to view the event is with special solar viewing glasses. They are made with filters that block Ultraviolet—or UV—light. And it is best to plan to wear special viewing glasses for the entire event rather than risk any exposure.

UV sunlight can burn your eyes’ retinas in less than a minute or two. Even a partially concealed sun is unsafe to view with the naked eye. Even though daylight will begin to dim, the ultraviolet rays will still be just as strong. The same is true when it is cloudy or you’re wearing sunglasses or looking through your home’s or vehicle’s windows.

Oak Orchard Health has safety glasses for viewing
Oak Orchard Health will be giving away ISO Certified eclipse viewing glasses to their current patients in our offices starting April 2. They are appropriate for adults and children. Limited supply is available and there is no cost.

You can also find places to purchase special eclipse viewing glasses by Googling The American Astronomical Society, a trusted organization, or see if your local library has them available, as the organization StarNet Libraries has distributed millions of the special viewing glasses to libraries around the U.S.

Precautions about other devices

If you are taking photos with your phone or camera, you still need to wear your viewing glasses. But there are certain devices that are unsafe to view the eclipse through even if you are wearing your viewing glasses: telescopes and binoculars. This is because such devices use magnifying lenses that will ruin the protective structure of the viewing glasses and damage your eyes anyway.

Watching out for kids

As for young children, remember to protect their eyes as well as your own. Providing them with viewing glasses can still be risky unless you control every second of your children’s behavior. So, the safest way for children to view an eclipse is indoors, on a television or computer screen, to be sure their eyes are never exposed to harmful rays. If your children are a bit older—teenagers—and want to experience the eclipse outdoors, just make sure they know to wear those special viewing glasses even as daylight dims. They may think, like other folks, that it is safe to look directly when it is not.

What to do about accidental exposure

After the eclipse, if you or a loved one have accidentally viewed direct sunlight and notice blurred or distorted vision, a change in the way you see colors, a blind spot, or a headache—usually within a few hours or the next day—make an appointment with an eye doctor right away. We have openings at our Brockport office. Just call (585) 637-3905 extension 3.

Sometimes, the symptoms of sun damage will go away after a few weeks or months. Sometimes, that damage is permanent.

For more on eclipse viewing safety, visit

Oak Orchard Health has a comprehensive Eye Department that includes two experienced Optometrists and a full suite of eyewear including contact lenses.
























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