Health Department

Posted on: August 16, 2017

Horrigan Reminds Residents to Use Safety When Viewing Partial Solar Eclipse

MAYVILLE, N.Y.:-- Chautauqua County Executive Vince Horrigan encourages the public to use safety while viewing the total solar eclipse that will cross the United States on August 21, 2017.


The last time the contiguous U.S. saw a total eclipse was in 1979. During the 2017 eclipse, the moon will completely cover the sun along a path from Salem, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. Individuals in Chautauqua County and other observers outside this path of totality will be able to see a partial solar eclipse.


“As individuals join family and friends to view this rare phenomenon, I encourage them to supervise children and take precautions to protect themselves from eye damage,” said Horrigan.


Individuals should never look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars or other optical device. The only way for individuals to safely look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is by using special-purpose solar filters such as eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewers.


“Ordinary sunglasses will not protect someone’s eyes when they are looking directly at the sun,” said Christine Schuyler, Chautauqua County Director of Health and Human Services. “The human retina is very sensitive to light and the sun’s surface is so bright that it can produce enough light to damage retinal cells.”


Individuals who do not use proper solar filters while looking at the sun can damage their eyes, which can cause them to see shadows or a big spot for a couple of hours, several weeks or months. In very rare cases, it can also cause blindness.


When using eclipse glasses or solar viewers, it is important for individuals to:

  • Inspect the solar filter before using it and do not use any damaged or scratched filters;
  • Stand still and cover their eyes with the eclipse glasses or solar viewer before they look up at the bright sun. Individuals who normally wear eyeglasses, should keep them on and put their eclipse glasses on over them or their handheld viewer in front of them;
  • Never remove their eclipse glasses or solar viewer while looking at the sun. Instead, turn away and then remove the filter;
  • Frequently look away from the partial eclipse to keep their eyes cool as infrared heat from the sun can warm the tissues and fluids in the eye and make viewing uncomfortable even with proper filters; and
  • Do not look at the sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars or other optical device while using their eclipse glasses or solar viewer. The concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter the eyes causing serious injury.


For more information about the total solar eclipse on August 21 and how to protect your eyes visit https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov or www.cdc.gov/features/solar-eclipse-safety .


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