Hackensack Meridian Health Offers Tips to Safely Enjoy the Solar Eclipse

August 16, 2017

Proper precautions are necessary to avoid damage or blindness.

People in parts of the U.S. will experience a total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017, and others will experience a partial eclipse. While an eclipse is a compelling event, looking directly at the sun can cause serious and permanent damage.

“The opportunity to view the solar eclipse is exciting, however, proper precautions are necessary,” says Michael Rosenberg, M.D., chair of Ophthalmology at Hackensack Meridian Health Hackensack University Medical Center. “Without proper protection, there is a risk of causing retinal damage leading to partial or functional blindness.”

Dr. Rosenberg refers to The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) advisory, which recommends that viewers protect their eyes while watching the entire eclipse. It explains that ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the sun. The proper equipment is essential.

Dr. Rosenberg highlights the AAO recommendation to use special-purpose solar filters. They must meet a very specific worldwide standard known as ISO 12312-2. These solar filters are used in eclipse glasses or in hand-held solar viewers.

With information provided by the American Astronomical Society, the AAO offers the following steps for safely watching a solar eclipse:

  • Carefully look at your solar filter or eclipse glasses before using them. If you see any scratches or damage, do not use them.
  • Always read and follow all directions that come with the solar filter or eclipse glasses. Help children to be sure they use handheld solar viewers and eclipse glasses correctly.
  • Before looking up at the bright sun, stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer. After glancing at the sun, turn away and remove your filter—do not remove it while looking at the sun.
  • The only time that you can look at the sun without a solar viewer is during a total eclipse. When the moon completely covers the sun’s bright face and it suddenly gets dark, you can remove your solar filter to watch this unique experience. Then, as soon as the bright sun begins to reappear very slightly, immediately use your solar viewer again to watch the remaining partial phase of the eclipse.
  • Never look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars or other similar devices. This is important even if you are wearing eclipse glasses or holding a solar viewer at the same time. The intense solar rays coming through these devices will damage the solar filter and your eyes.

According to NASA, the path of the eclipse will stretch from Salem, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. Observers outside this path will still see a partial solar eclipse.

If you plan to view the solar eclipse, Dr. Rosenberg recommends speaking with your eye care specialist. For more information on safe viewing, you can also visit: www.AAO.org.

Hackensack Meridian Health is a leading not-for-profit health care organization that is the most comprehensive and truly integrated health care network in New Jersey, offering a complete range of medical services, innovative research and life-enhancing care. Hackensack Meridian Health comprises 13 hospitals, including two academic medical centers, two children’s hospitals and nine community hospitals, physician practices, more than 120 ambulatory care centers, surgery centers, home health services, long-term care and assisted living communities, ambulance services, lifesaving air medical transportation, fitness and wellness centers, rehabilitation centers, and urgent care and after-hours centers. Hackensack Meridian Health has 28,000 team members, more than 6,000 physicians and is a distinguished leader in health care philanthropy, committed to the health and well-being of the communities it serves.

The Network’s notable distinctions include having one of only five major academic medical centers in the nation to receive Healthgrades America’s 50 Best Hospitals Award for five or more consecutive years, the only network in New Jersey to have four hospitals ranked in the top 10 in the state, including the number one hospital in New Jersey for six years as ranked by U.S. News and World Report. The network also consistently achieves Magnet® recognition for nursing excellence from the American Nurses Credentialing Center, and is recipient of the John M. Eisenberg Award for Patient Safety and Quality from The Joint Commission and the National Quality Forum, a six-time recipient of Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For,” one of the “20 Best Workplaces in Health Care” in the nation, and the number one “Best Place to Work for Women.” Hackensack Meridian Health is a member of AllSpire Health Partners, an interstate consortium of leading health systems, to focus on the sharing of best practices in clinical care and achieving efficiencies.

The hospitals of Hackensack Meridian Health include: academic medical centers – Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune; children’s hospitals – Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital in Hackensack, K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital in Neptune; community hospitals – Ocean Medical Center in Brick, Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, Mountainside Medical Center in Montclair, Palisades Medical Center in North Bergen, Raritan Bay Medical Center in Perth Amboy, Southern Ocean Medical Center in Manahawkin, Bayshore Medical Center in Holmdel, Raritan Bay Medical Center in Old Bridge, and Pascack Valley Medical Center in Westwood.

For additional information, please visit www.HackensackMeridianHealth.org.