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Eye Doc Urges Caution With Eclipse

The upcoming solar eclipse on Monday, Aug. 21, is a chance to see an astronomical phenomenon, but a local eye doctor urged the public to view it safely – ideally by using pinhole projection.

“A lot of eye doctors have great concern that people aren’t going to do what they’re supposed to be doing,” Elizabethtown optometrist Joseph P. Rebman said.

During the eclipse, the sun will be blocked by the moon, creating darkness during what would normally be daylight hours. A total eclipse is expected for a swath of the United States going from Oregon to South Carolina; the local area should have about 75 percent of the sun blocked for a period from about 2:30 to 2:45 p.m. The Milanof-Schock Library at 1184 Anderson Ferry Road, Mount Joy, is inviting the public to gather on the lawn that afternoon for eclipse viewing.

Rebman said people should absolutely not look at the eclipse directly, adding that doing so is every bit as dangerous as looking directly at the sun on a normal day. The difference is that on a normal day, looking directly at the sun will cause pain, so people will naturally look away quickly; during a partial eclipse, the lack of pain may trick people into thinking there is no danger.

Ordinary sunglasses will not make it safe either, Rebman said. Glasses that meet the ISO 12312-2 international standard should allow people to view the eclipse safely provided that they are not damaged and are used properly.

“When you look through, you really can’t see anything,” Rebman said when demonstrating the glasses indoors. “That’s the way it should be.”

Consumers should be careful to look out for counterfeits, Rebman said.

“Amazon just recalled a bunch of counterfeit glasses,” Rebman said.

Rebman warned that even the proper safety glasses will not protect the eyes if the glasses are damaged, so he said a better way to view the eclipse is by using pinhole projection.

“You make a pinhole and you project the image of the sun down on paper,” Rebman said. “You don’t look directly through the pinhole.”

A pinhole can be made in a piece of card stock, such as a manila folder, and held near a piece of paper to show an image of the sun on the paper. Rebman said looking at a pinhole projection of the sun is safe whether there is an eclipse or not, so people can make pinhole projectors and test them in advance.

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