Important Safety Guidelines for the Upcoming Annular Solar Eclipse

Get ready, Fort Worth! On Oct. 14, North Texas will experience a celestial phenomenon — an annular solar eclipse.

This rare spectacle will be mainly visible from the Americas. We are fortunate in the Lone Star State because the eclipse will pass directly over us. However, it’s crucial to remember that directly observing any phase of the solar eclipse can be dangerous for your eyes. 

According to guidelines from NASA, the sun’s intense luminosity can lead to substantial eye injuries, known as solar retinopathy. Attempting to watch the eclipse through camera lenses, binoculars, telescopes, or even the naked eye can result in severe damage to your eyes. Standard sunglasses are insufficient for this purpose. The only reliable options for safe viewing are specialized ‘eclipse glasses’ that meet the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard or a homemade solar viewer.

If you opt for the DIY route, you’ll need a cardboard box and a sheet of white paper. Attach the paper to the inside back wall of the box and make a small pinhole on the box’s opposite side. This will allow the sun’s image to be projected onto the paper. 

The best time to witness the sky event in Fort Worth is around 11:52 a.m. We urge everyone — faculty, staff and students — to prioritize eye safety while enjoying this extraordinary event. It’s critical to emphasize that neither the sun nor an eclipse should be looked at without proper eye protection. This is especially important for children, who should be closely monitored during such events.

Solar retinopathy, also known as eclipse retinopathy, is a condition that arises from photo-induced damage to the central retina or macula. Even a brief exposure, lasting only a few seconds, can trigger this condition. The outcome is often a mild to significant reduction in central vision which could be irreversible. Currently, there are no established treatments for solar retinopathy, making preventive education crucial.  

While eclipse glasses can offer some level of protection, they come with their own set of risks. It’s essential that anyone using these glasses understands the safety guidelines, particularly the ISO 12312-2 standard, to minimize potential eye damage. 

If there’s suspicion of solar retinopathy, immediate consultation with an ophthalmologist is necessary to diagnose and rule out other treatable causes of visual impairment.