MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - We all want to see the Great American Eclipse coming in August, but eye doctors warn it's dangerous to watch the eclipse without proper eyewear.
The Great American Eclipse will happen across a large swatch of the U.S. on August 21. This is the first solar eclipse to cross all of continental America since 1918.
Dr. Brian Fowler of the Hamilton Eye Institute at UT Health Science Center, has treated patients who damaged their eyes permanently after viewing a solar eclipse.
"The light beams during a solar eclipse are very intense and the UV light can damage the eye," Dr. Fowler said. "The reason its so problematic is we are looking directly at the sun with the fovea, which is where our most clear vision comes from."
If you plan to watch the solar eclipse, Dr. Fowler said do not rely on your regular sunglasses. Those will not protect your eyes. Instead, make sure you get a pair of certified solar glasses.
Using binoculars, a camera, or a telescope to view an eclipse is a danger as well.
Eclipse glasses are essential and can be purchased at many local retail outlets right now. One of the largest manufacturers of eclipse glasses is right here in Memphis, American Paper Optic. If you have the glasses put them on before looking at the sun and be sure to look away before removing them.
If you don't have glasses you can also view the eclipse with a pinhole projection. Simply stick a needle or pin into a piece of cardboard making a small hole. Then hold a piece of paper a few inches under the cardboard while aiming it in the direction of the incoming sunlight. A shadow of the eclipse will be cast on the paper underneath the cardboard.
"There's an urge to look. Everyone is excited about it, people are talking about it, so that's why we ask people to prepare," Dr. Fowler said.
This year's Great American eclipse is one of the most highly anticipated celestial events of the year. WMC Action News 5 has plans to bring this event to you on air and on the web, but you will have the opportunity to view it for yourself.
The closest point of totality to the Mid-South will be in Caducei, Kentucky about 175 miles from Memphis where the sun will be 100 percent obstructed by the moon and thousands are expected to flock to that small town.
But you don't have to leave the Mid-South to get a good view. We'll experience 94 percent totality, which will cast quite a shadow over our area and will be an amazing sight.
The Great American Eclipse will be one that no one wants to miss. People from around the world will converge along the path of totality across the U.S., so get ready to just step out your door on the afternoon of August 21 at 1:20 p.m. and view it from home or work.
Clarksville: 2:19 of totality
Gallatin: 2:40 of totality
Nashville: 1:57 of totality
Lebanon: 2:37 of totality
Cookeville: 2:32 of totality
For more information about seeing the Great American Eclipse in Tennessee, click here.
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