Protect your eyes during solar eclipse

A Morpeth optician has reminded people to protect their eyes when viewing tomorrow’s solar eclipse.

Northern Europe is expected to be cast into almost total darkness during the eclipse, which occurs when the moon passes between the sun and the Earth.

It is due to begin just after 8.30am, and to peak at around 9.40am, finishing at roughly 10.45am.

Almost 94 percent of the sun’s light is expected to be blocked during the event, which has not been seen from Morpeth since 1999.

However, while it may be tempting to look at the eclipse bare-eyed, Morpeth’s Specsavers branch is urging viewers to take care as the light can damage eyes, causing solar retinopathy.

The damage is often painless so people don’t realise the harm to their vision.

Morpeth Specsavers Store Director Ross Jennings said: “A solar eclipse of this scale and coverage is something not to be missed, but the public should be aware of the risks of looking directly as the sun and how to make sure they are not left with any long-lasting damage.

“It is vital that you protect your eyes as the sun’s UV radiation can burn the retinas, leading to permanent damage or even blindness. This can occur even if your eyes are exposed to direct sunlight for just a few seconds.

“You should never, under any circumstances, look directly at the sun without the appropriate protective eyewear.

“Observations from the last solar eclipse in 1999 highlighted a surge in patients with possible solar retinopathy after viewing the eclipse so without dramatising the dangers, we are asking the general public to be aware and stay safe.”

The only way to view the sun safely is to project or filter its rays. This can be done through eclipse glasses or welder’s googles.

According to NASA, the following materials should never be used to view a solar eclipse: medical x-ray film, smoked glass, any kind of sunglasses, CDs or floppy disks.

For more information, or to book an eye examination at Specsavers Morpeth, call 01670 500180, or visit www.specsavers.co.uk/stores/morpeth