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30% unaware solar eclipses can cause eye damage, survey finds

Staring at the sun can cause permanent eye damage, but many Americans may be unaware of the dangers of solar eclipses.
Stacks of Sun Catcher solar eclipse glasses wait to be packed and shipped from the Explore Scientific
Posted at 12:27 PM, Apr 03, 2024

While most Americans know not to stare at the sun during a solar eclipse without eye protection, a sizable group is unaware of the potential dangers. 

According to a survey released Tuesday by the Ohio State University, 30% of respondents said they were unaware that staring at a solar eclipse can cause permanent eye damage. 

“The survey results highlight the need for more community education about the true dangers associated with a total eclipse,” said Dr. Nicholas Kman, MD, emergency medicine physician at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center. “We can’t stress enough the importance of proper eye protection, but people also need to have a plan for emergencies.”  

Except for several minutes during totality, wearing special glasses is necessary for viewing the eclipse. 

Staring at a solar eclipse not in totality could cause damage to the eye, NASA said. Regular sunglasses also are insufficient for looking at solar eclipses. 

You can now view solar eclipse cloud cover forecast
A partial solar eclipse is seen through the cloud over Jakarta, Indonesia, Thursday, April 20, 2023.

You can now view solar eclipse cloud cover forecast

The National Weather Service's cloud cover forecast is now available for April 8. Will clouds block your view of the eclipse?


NASA said solar eclipse glasses should be marked with ISO 12312-2 on them to confirm they are safe for usage during a solar eclipse. 

The American Academy of Ophthalmology said staring directly at the sun can cause blurry vision, headaches, a blind spot, increased sensitivity to light and other symptoms. 

Additionally, the OSU survey revealed that more than 10% of Americans believe an eclipse can cause natural disasters, sleep problems and mental health issues. More than 1,000 people were included in the survey.