Protect your child’s eyes during the eclipse

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IDAHO FALLS — If you have children and are planning to view the eclipse on Monday, make sure their eyes are protected.

All need their own pair of eclipse glasses. Be sure to spend time educating them so they’ll know what to expect.

Bradley L. Rinehart, optometrist at Sam’s Club in Idaho Falls, said the first step to make sure your eclipse glasses are in fact ISO certified.

“I have seen some off-hand reports that some manufacturers are making and selling counterfeit certified glasses,” Rinehart said. “You can self-test them by taking them outside before the eclipse. If you can’t see anything except the sun, then they are likely the right ISO.”

If you can see more than just the sun, he added, then they’re not going to filter enough and could damage your eyes.

Sunglasses are not strong enough to protect anyone’s eyes when looking directly at the sun.

The next step is, before the eclipse even happens, sit down with your kids and talk to them about how important it is to protect their eyes.

“Educate them and tell them of the serious consequences that can happen if you look at the sun,” Rinehart said.

For children who are simply too small to understand, he explained it might be best to keep them inside until totality.

“If they are old enough, keep an eye on them,” Rinehart said. “Don’t let them look over the top of their glasses at the sun. I’ve seen some DIY posts about how to mount glasses on a paper plate and cut a notch for the mouth or nose. I don’t know if all kids would use them, but theoretically it could ensure that your kids aren’t tempting to take them off or look over the top of the lenses.”

Like many eye doctors, Rinehart has seen first-hand the damage staring at the sun for even a short time can do to someone’s eyes.

“There is no treatment for it. Once you damage your eyes, they don’t heal,” he said.

That’s why Rinehart has been talking to his patients as they come in. “We have a conversation about when to use the glasses and when not to use them. It’s surprising how many are still not clear on it.”

Here’s the deal: When looking at the sun—even just a sliver—always wear your eclipse glasses. The only time it’s OK to take them off is when the moon is completely covering the sun (also called totality). Totality doesn’t last long. When you see the little sliver of sun start to peak back out again, put your eclipse glasses back on immediately.

Dr. Lisa Porter at A-B-See Vision Care in Idaho Falls offered the following vision safety tips for parents with small children:

  • Tell them their eyes can get a sunburn if they look at the sun.
  • Carefully practice wearing your ISO-certified viewers (ISO 12312-2 international safety standards) indoors before the actual eclipse outside.
  • While wearing them indoors it will be completely dark, but let them know when viewing the sun they will see a round orange ball.
  • Set up a “viewing station” during the eclipse where there is an absolute rule that no viewing is to occur unless supervised by an adult. That adult is to make sure the children are to have on eclipse viewers before staring into the sky.
  • If your child is too small to keep on their eclipse viewers, it is best to have them playing with toys under a heavily shaded tree or remain inside.
  • Ask other adults before hand to not get excited and point up when the eclipse occurs because they will want to look where they are pointing.

“The solar eclipse is one of the most amazing sights nature can offer,” Porter said. “Don’t let this opportunity pass you by. Taking just a few minutes to make vision health a priority and verify the safety of your eclipse viewers prior to the event on Aug. 21 will make a look to the sky a safe and memorable event.”

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