Hood River




The Dalles


2025 Cascade Ave


301 Cherry Heights


How to View the Solar Eclipse Safely

The solar eclipse that will happen on the morning of August 21st is a rare and exciting visual phenomenon. For those who are able to travel a bit south of the Gorge, there will be a Total Eclipse. This is when the moon is positioned in just the right position between the earth and sun, causing it to appear the moon is completely blocking out the light of the sun. Those of us viewing from the Gorge will not quite get the effect of the Total Eclipse, but will still experience a Partial Eclipse, with 99% of the surface of the sun blocked by the moon at the point of "Totality" (around 10:21 AM).


Whether Total or Partial, it will be tempting to look directly at the eclipse. It will seem like the moon is providing an effective shield against the damaging sun rays. Unfortunately, there still be enough ultraviolet radiation reaching the earth to potentially cause significant, and possibly permanent, damage to your visual system. Just as you should never look directly at the sun during a bright sunny day, you should not look directly at the sun during an eclipse.  Even a tiny sliver of sun peaking out from behind the moon is enough to cause damage. There are no pain receptors in the back of the eye (retina), so damage may occur without any symptoms. And, cell damage from the sun -- solar retinopathy -- can not be corrected by your eye doctor.


Thankfully, there are ways to experience the eclipse that will protect your valuable eyesight. The goal is to prevent the damaging UV rays from striking the retina cells in the back of your eyes. One way is to view the eclipse indirectly using a Pinhole Projector. This is constructed from cardboard, such as a shoebox. The eclipse is “projected” on the back of the box, and is viewed indirectly by looking at the projection. There are easy to follow instructions for making a Pinhole Projector on the internet, including www.nasa.com.


The only safe methods to look directly at the eclipse is to wear "eclipse glasses" or certain welding goggles. To be effective, eclipse glasses must be ISO-certified, undamaged, and used following all printed instructions that come with the eclipse glasses. We at Cascade Eye Center are happy to offer eclipse glasses for free to the first 300 patients requesting them at each location, beginning July 21st.


Welding goggles are only safe to use if rated 14 or higher. Anything lower than 14 will not provide adequate protection.


Regular or polarized sunglasses will NOT provide adequate protection, even if they are listed as providing“100% UVA and UVB protection” and are very darkly tinted. A number of other products are widely believed to provide proper safety but should NOT be used. Things not to do include looking through Mylar balloons, CDs or DVDs, space blankets, medical x-ray film, exposed photography film, filters for cameras or telescopes, or food wrappers. And, it definitely won't work to "double-up" by stacking sunglasses on top of each other or combining these items together.  Please note that even if you are wearing certified eclipse glasses, it is not safe to use them with cameras, binoculars, or telescopes as their lenses concentrate the sunlight that is present.


So, enjoy the eclipse, but please do so safely. Call us at Cascade Eye Center if you have any questions about safe eclipse viewing.

~ The doctors and staff of Cascade Eye Center