Dover AFB Eye Clinic Advises Eclipse Safety

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- If you’re wondering who turned off the lights on Aug. 21, 2017, it’s the partial eclipse, or you forgot to pay the electric bill. Airmen and families in the Dover area will be able to see this historic event around 1:20 p.m. that day. If that’s your plan, the 436th Medical Group’s Optometry Clinic wants to make sure you view the eclipse safely.

Eleven states will get to experience the total solar eclipse where the sun is completely blocked, while others will see a partial eclipse. Dover and the surrounding area will be out of the path of totality where only part of the sun is blocked. In those areas, you will need to protect your eyes during the entire eclipse.

Without protection, your eyes could be damaged while viewing the eclipse, which could possibly cause blindness. Ordinary sunglasses or homemade filters will not protect your eyes during the eclipse. You will have to use specially designed eclipse glasses or solar filters to safely view the eclipse.

“Anytime you look directly at the sun there is a chance for vision loss,” said Maj Murphy, 436th MDG Optometry Flight Commander. “Just like your skin, the eye is susceptible to sunburns that can cause pain and vision loss, both temporary and permanent.”

The clinic certified ophthalmic technicians, MSgt Hermann Schieder and Mrs. Jennifer Freeman advise that any eye pain or vision loss occurring after viewing the eclipse, should be evaluated by a local eye doctor or emergency room.

Here are a few tips from the American Academy of Ophthalmology that will help you enjoy the event safely:

- Carefully look at your solar filter or eclipse glasses before using them. If you see any scratches or damage, do not use them.

- Always read and follow all directions that come with the solar filter or eclipse glasses. Help children to be sure they use handheld solar viewers and eclipse glasses correctly.

- Before looking up at the bright sun, stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer. After glancing at the sun, turn away and remove your filter—do not remove it while looking at the sun.

- The only time that you can look at the sun without a solar viewer is during a total eclipse. When the moon completely covers the sun’s bright face and it suddenly gets dark, you can remove your solar filter to watch this unique experience. Then, as soon as the bright sun begins to reappear very slightly, immediately use your solar viewer again to watch the remaining partial phase of the eclipse.

- Never look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars or other similar devices. This is important even if you are wearing eclipse glasses or holding a solar viewer at the same time. The intense solar rays coming through these devices will damage the solar filter and your eyes.

- Talk with an expert astronomer if you want to use a special solar filter with a camera, a telescope, binoculars or any other optical device.

“A solar eclipse is such a rare thing that happens once every so many years, which is possibly a once in a lifetime event for some. We want to make sure Airmen and their families can enjoy the eclipse while also being safe,” said Freeman.

For more information on eye safety during the eclipse, visit