As eclipse edges closer, AOA promotes safe viewing

April 3, 2024
Doctors of optometry demonstrate their expertise as excitement builds over the April 8 total solar eclipse. AOA President Ronald L. Benner, O.D., urges the public to watch the event “safely and wisely.”
Teenage boy wearing solar eclipse glasses 2024

Buzz over the total solar eclipse Monday, April 8, is still building, presenting an opportunity for doctors of optometry to educate the public on their eye care.

How much excitement? An eclipse-related digital ad generated more than 16,000 clicks to the AOA doctor locator on aoa.org in less than three weeks. The AOA’s promotion of safe viewing habits has garnered national and local coverage reaching over 500 million people. Notable placements include CNN, USA Today, Forbes and The Associated Press.

“While eclipses are for many an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime event, it’s important to remember that vision is even more precious,” AOA President Ronald L. Benner, O.D., says. “View safely and wisely. It’s better to remember viewing the eclipse as a positive event in your life than a negative experience.

“It only takes a moment to damage the eyes leading to loss of vision, color vision disruption or permanent distortion that may be a constant and negative reminder of the event that no one wants,” Dr. Benner says.

See resources for the public

The total solar eclipse will cross the U.S., passing over Texas, and traveling through Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

For the event, doctors of optometry can access free resources and materials designed to inform the public on protecting their vision:

Tips for safely viewing the eclipse

Here are some tips from the AOA for safely viewing the eclipse. It’s unsafe to look directly at the sun without specialized eye protection for solar viewing.

Use approved solar eclipse viewers. The only safe way to view a partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as "eclipse glasses" or viewers that meet international standard ISO 12312-2 for safe viewing. Sunglasses, smoked glass, unfiltered telescopes or magnifiers and polarizing filters are unsafe. Inspect your eclipse glasses or handheld viewer before use. If torn, scratched or otherwise damaged, discard the device.

Protect those peepers and download AOA’s Blink Land pinhole eclipse projector.

Technique of the pros. Stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer before looking up. After viewing, turn away and remove your glasses or viewer—do not remove them while looking at the sun. If you normally wear eyeglasses, wear your eclipse glasses over them, or hold your handheld viewer in front of them.

Totality awesome. Only within the path of totality—and once the moon completely blocks the sun—can eclipse viewers safely be removed to view totality. Once the sun begins reappearing, however, viewers must be replaced.

Visit your doctor of optometry. If you should experience discomfort or vision problems following the eclipse, visit your local doctor of optometry for a comprehensive eye examination.

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