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eclipse-warningThe South African Optometric Association warns the SA public against watching the eclipse (Monday 26 January 2009) without protective eyewear.

During the excitement to experience the wondrous phenomenon of a Solar Eclipse - one is often too preoccupied by having a proper view of this rare visual sighting - that the most precious organs of sight are compromised in the process.

The eye's internal lens acts in the same way as a magnifying glass - able to focus the UV and Infra red rays of the sun to a sharp point. When viewing the eclipse by looking directly at the sun - these harmful rays are focused at the most sensitive part of the eye (fovea) which is responsible for perceiving fine detail and colour. In the process a solar burn wound is inflicted on the fovea and macular area inside the eye - leaving a permanent scar - compromising the quality of one's central vision for life.

The SAOA would like to remind you to use proper sun protection such as special UV and Infra-red filters and to refrain from looking straight at the sun during this event.

A very safe, effective way of monitoring the changing sun pattern is by looking at the shadow projected through a small pin hole in a piece of card board. Hold the card board - punched with a pinhole - horizontal with the floor. Hold the paper in direct sunlight and see the pattern of the shadow of the Eclipse projected on the floor.

Remember that viewing the sun through the lenses of binoculars, telescopes and cameras are particularly harmful if done without protective solar filters.

NB: Protective eye ware does not include sunglasses. Only authentic eclipse viewers should be used.

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