Public Health reminds residents to ‘protect their peepers’ during April 8 Solar Eclipse

On April 8, Niagara will be one of the few places in Canada in the path of a total solar eclipse. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime event that is expected to draw thousands of visitors to the region, and Public Health is reminding residents and visitors to protect their eyes and enjoy the eclipse safely.

Use Certified Solar Eclipse Glasses

It is very dangerous to look directly at the sun at any time, and a quick glance during an eclipse can be especially tempting. Looking directly at the uncovered sun can cause irreversible eye damage.

To avoid damaging your retinas when viewing the solar eclipse, only use ISO-12312-2 certified eclipse glasses from a reputable vendor and in good condition, and never use regular sunglasses, or do-it-yourself filters. Public Health has information on how to tell if your solar eclipse glasses are safe, and where to buy them.

“Looking directly at the sun can be very dangerous and cause retinal burns, sight loss or blurred vision. Because there are no pain sensors in your retinas, you won’t feel your eyes being damaged. This is why we want everyone to be aware of the need to wear proper solar eclipse glasses to protect their eyes.”

Dr. Jessica Jackman, Associate Medical Officer of Health

Niagara Health Head of Service for Ophthalmology, Dr. Amber Sheikh, agrees, adding sustained or high intensity light exposure from the eclipse will lead to permanent damage to the retina, also known as solar retinopathy.

“The damage from solar retinopathy is permanent with loss of central vision. No treatment is available,” she says. “Vulnerable individuals are young children, people with clear lenses (individuals that have undergone cataract surgery), people who are on certain drugs such as antibiotics like tetracycline, and some people with mental or psychiatric issues.”

More Preparation Tips

Niagara’s local governments, emergency responders, schools and other organizations have been working together for months to make sure the community is ready. With thousands of visitors expected to come to Niagara to view the eclipse, it is important for everyone to prepare ahead of time.

With most schools and childcare facilities closed on April 8, parents and guardians are reminded to have a child care plan in place, and supervise children during the eclipse.

Additionally, as crowds, lines and traffic are expected, everyone is encouraged to fill up their gas tank, get groceries, and have snacks, water and first-aid supplies on hand. For any changes or disruptions to municipal services, call 211 or follow Niagara Region and your local municipality on social media.

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