It has been over 40 years since Canada last witnessed a solar eclipse so we are all understandably very excited. We cannot, however, forget about solar eclipse eye protection.
On the morning of Monday August 21, darkness will fall on the the Lower Mainland. Those in Vancouver can expect to begin to see a change in light from 9.15am. The full eclipse will last approximately two minutes around 10am. Unlike our neighbours south of the border, we will only be able to witness 90% of the eclipse rather than 100% but it is still sure to be an impressive sight, provided you have the correct equipment to prevent permanent eye damage.
Infrared and UV radiation is what causes eye damage from looking at the sun. The combination of these two types of radiation result in something similar to sunburn only to the cornea rather than skin. Corneas cannot repair from this as easily as skin can. Burning the cornea can result in pain and temporary or permanent vision loss with younger eyes being most at risk.
Solar Eclipse Glasses
The safest way to enjoy this eclipse is with a pair of solar eclipse glasses which differ from regular sunglasses or welding visors. Solar eclipse glasses are manufactured to block out a high level of UV and infrared light. They must be classed as ISO 12312-2 standard and should have no scratches. You can wear these glasses over your regular glasses. If you find them slipping off, try using a paper clip to attach the two pairs of glasses together. Or for a longer term fix, perhaps now is the time to consider booking an appointment with us to discuss laser eye surgery so you can get rid of your glasses for good!
Making A Pinhole Projector
If you will be recovering from laser eye surgery at this time, we suggest you avoid looking at the eclipse, even with glasses. You can still experience the eerie darkness that will descend on Vancouver by creating a pinhole projector. Get yourself some aluminum foil, two pieces of card, tape and a safety pin. First, fold one piece of card in half and cut a Post-it sized hole in the middle. Unfold the card and tape a cutout of aluminum foil over the square hole. Using your safety pin, prick a hole in the middle of the foil. Holding this, stand with your back to the sun and place the other piece of card on the floor. The eclipse will project through the pinhole onto your plain piece of card on the floor allowing you to watch the eclipse whilst recovering from your surgery.
For many people, this will be your first time witnessing a solar eclipse, be sure it is a day to remember for the right reasons!