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Don’t Be Blindsided by the Eclipse

The Utah Optometric Association Offers a Warning and Tips for Your Eclipse Party

While millions of people flock to see the total solar eclipse north of the Salt Lake Valley and across the West on August 21, many Utah residents will be having their own eclipse parties from the comfort of their homes.

“It will really be a spectacular and surreal sight to see – Everything dimming at midday,” said Ross Chatwin, OD, board member of the Utah Optometric Association.

For a couple of minutes during the eclipse window, between 10:13 a.m. and 11:33 a.m., light will be reduced in Salt Lake City, but it won’t be totally dark like in the total eclipse belt. Dr. Chatwin said that’s when it gets dangerous.

“In Salt Lake City we will see 91 percent of totality at about 11:33 a.m. As a kid you were told to never look at the sun, that’s still important to keep in mind here,” said Dr. Chatwin.

If you don’t want to scorch your eyes, Dr. Chatwin says having the right equipment is key.

Eclipse viewing glasses and handheld solar viewers should meet all the following criteria:

  • Have certification information with a designated ISO 12312-2 international standard.
  • Have the manufacturer’s name and address printed somewhere on the product.
  • Not be used if they are older than three years, or have scratched or wrinkled lenses.
  • Not use homemade filters or be substituted for with ordinary sunglasses — not even very dark ones — because they are not safe for looking directly at the sun.

In fact, he says you should keep your eclipse glasses on at all times.

“That nine percent of sun can cause permanent retinal damage within seconds,” Dr. Chatwin said.

Find a local optometrist for purchasing eclipse glasses that are safe. You can also purchase glasses at during one of the Salt Lake Astronomical Society‘s sun or star parties or purchase the glasses online or at the Clark Planetarium.

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