April 3, 2024

Staring directly at the the sun can cause permanent damage to the eye. If you plan to observe the partial solar eclipse on Monday, April 8, follow these important safety tips to protect your eyes.

Penelope Swanson MD

Eye Care Center

On Monday, April 8, North America will experience a solar eclipse. Along a narrow path from Texas to Maine, people will be able to view a total solar eclipse, which means the moon completely blocks out the sun.

In Minnesota, we will experience a partial solar eclipse when the moon gradually covers a portion of the sun’s face. Drilling down to Mankato, we will see a 79% eclipse of the sun that will take about 2.5 hours from 12:47 to 3:13 p.m. The eclipse begins when the moon touches the edge of the sun and ends when the moon leaves the edge of the sun. The deepest point of the eclipse when the sun is most hidden is at 2 p.m.

Protect your Eyes

You must protect your eyes to safely observe a solar eclipse. To do so, wear special eye protection – eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewers – to directly observe the sun, during a partial solar eclipse or any other time.

You’ve heard the saying not to look directly at the sun. With good reason. Staring directly at the sun – even for a short time – can permanently damage your retina. Your retina is a thin tissue in your eye that senses light and sends signals to your brain so you can see. Looking at the sun can even cause blindness, also known as solar retinopathy.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology offers these tips to safely watch the solar eclipse.

Ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, or homemade filters are not safe for looking at the sun.

There is only one safe way to look directly at the sun, whether during an eclipse or not: through special-purpose solar filters. These solar filters are used in “eclipse glasses” or in hand-held solar viewers. They must meet a very specific worldwide standard known as ISO 12312-2.

To make sure your eclipse glasses are approved by the American Astronomical Society, visit https://eclipse.aas.org/eye-safety/viewers-filters.

  • 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 viewing, turn away and remove your eclipse glasses or solar viewer. Do not remove it while looking at the sun.
  • If you normally wear glasses, wear your eclipse glasses over them.
  • 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 protective filter in your solar glasses and put your eyes at risk.
  • Talk with an expert astronomer if you want to use a special solar filter with a camera, a telescope, binoculars or any other optical device.

Source: American Academy of Ophthalmology

Learn more

To learn more, visit NASA.

Eclipse glasses may be available at local retailers including HY-Vee Hilltop while supplies last.

Before purchasing eclipse glasses from any retailer or Amazon, visit the American Astronomical Society to make sure glasses are from an approved manufacturer or importer.