When is it okay to take off your eclipse glasses?

Eclipse Glasses Safety

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – By now, we all know that eclipse glasses are needed to safely enjoy the total solar eclipse on Monday but when can you take them off? For how long? And what are the dangers if you look up too soon without them? 

We’ve all been taught it’s never safe to look directly at the sun.

“Sun damage can occur even outside of solar eclipses, there are people are, whether for personal beliefs or otherwise, who engage in sun gazing and those can be risky activities, so whether it’s an eclipse or not, please do not look in the sun directly,” warns Dr. Luca Zatreanu, an Ophthalmologist at Rochester Regional Health. 

You can look up without glasses only when we are experiencing totality, that’s when the moon is completely covering the sun. In the Rochester region, totality is expected to start right around 3:20 p.m. and last for 3 minutes and 29 seconds.

“It is actually safe to remove the solar glasses only during that period so make sure you don’t do it before or after,” warns Dr. Zatreanu. 

How can you ensure you get the timing right? ]

“As the moon goes over the sun, you’ll start to see a crescent which then turns into a ring and then eventually the ring can actually go away completely so, that would be a good time to take off the glasses if you want,” explains Dr. Zatreanu.  But before and after, you have to have your approved eclipse glasses on when you’re looking up. 

If you have children, pay close attention to them while they’re outside enjoying the day. Make sure they have eclipse glasses that fit properly. Check the glasses for any holes or scratches and make sure any time they’re looking up, they’re wearing them. 

What’s the danger if you or they look up without the glasses?  A condition called solar retinopathy. 

“By looking at the sun, it can cause damage to the center part of your retina called the fovea,” says Dr. Zatreanu. “The fovea is responsible for central vision so anything from reading to watching television to driving uses the fovea.”

Blurry or distorted vision, central blind spots or changes in color vision are all symptoms of solar retinopathy. 

If you experience any of those symptoms both local health systems have emergency numbers set-up that you can contact. 

Rochester Regional Health