Ed Day, Rockland County Executive

August 15, 2017
Contact: Jane Lerner, Director of Strategic Communications (845) 638-5645
               Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, D.O., M.P.H., CPE, DABFM, FAAFP (845) 364-2512


Protect your eyes from injury during the eclipse

NEW CITY, NY - - Get ready to experience the Great American Eclipse on August 21! A total solar eclipse, when the moon completely covers the sun, will be visible from coast to coast; our area will experience a partial solar eclipse, where only part of the sun is blocked even at the peak of the eclipse.

While you are enjoying the experience, Rockland County Executive Ed Day and County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert warn residents to protect your eyes from injury. The only safe way to look directly at the sun, whether during an eclipse or not, is through special-purpose solar filters. These solar filters are used in "eclipse glasses" or in hand-held solar viewers. They must meet a very specific worldwide standard known as ISO 12312-2.

"Without special eye protection, viewing the partial eclipse even for a short time can cause damage to your eyes and loss of vision and can cause permanent blindness. It could take as little as several seconds to burn your retina (back of the eye) when looking directly into the sun. However, with special eyewear or a solar viewer, you can safely enjoy this amazing sight," said Dr. Ruppert.

Goggles, homemade filters, or sunglasses, even very dark ones, will not protect your eyes. Special-purpose solar filters are many thousands of times darker than ordinary sunglasses. Also, always avoid looking at the sun through an unfiltered camera, smartphone, telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device. You'll need to add a certified solar filter to these devices to safely look at the sun.

Eclipse glasses and handheld solar viewers are inexpensive and can be purchased from many retailers. However, not all meet the required ISO 12312-2 international safety standards; make sure yours do. Even if your eclipse glasses meet the safety standards, don't use them if the lenses are scratched or wrinkled, or are older than 3 years. Be sure to follow any instructions printed on or packaged with the filter.

The American Astronomical Society suggests that you make sure you get (or got) your eclipse viewers from one of the suppliers listed on their Reputable Vendors of Solar Filters & Viewers page as the marketplace is now being flooded by counterfeit eclipse glasses that are labeled as if they're ISO-compliant when in fact they are not. For more information on how to tell if your eclipse glasses or handheld solar viewers are safe visit

For more information about protecting your eyes during the eclipse visit the CDC website at