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Dr. Ming Wang Shares Eye Safety and Eclipse Viewing


Dr. Ming Wang, Harvard & MIT (MD, magna cum laude); PhD (laser physics), shares the following important information regarding viewing the upcoming solar eclipse safely:

Can I use my cell phone to take a photo or a video of the eclipse, and/or can I use a telescope to look at it?

Yes, but only if you use the appropriate solar eclipse safety glasses (ISO 12312-2 solar glasses, which meet the International Safety Standard), and use them correctly when viewing the solar eclipse. With the solar glasses on, you could then take a photo with a digital viewfinder (such as a cell phone screen) which is the safest way to obtain this photo or video. Without the appropriate solar safety glasses, you should NOT take a photo or a video with your naked eye or with regular sun glasses.

Looking through a camera with a lens or telescope lens actually concentrates, focuses and amplifies light intensity, so looking at the eclipse through them with only the naked eye (or protected eye) is, in fact, more dangerous than with the naked eye alone (or protected eye). Appropriate lenses should be used for this. The proper way is to put the solar eclipse glasses IN FRONT OF the camera or telescope, instead of putting them on your face and then looking at the eclipse through the camera or telescope lens. The safest way to view; however, it to avoid looking through any additional lenses (such as a camera lens or telescope) all together.

How can I make sure that I have the appropriate solar eclipse safety glasses, and that they are in the appropriate condition to view the eclipse safely?

  • Labelled ISO 12312-2
  • Less than 3 years old
  • No scratches, holes or damage

Can I view the eclipse through my sunglasses, instead of solar eclipse glasses?

No, since regular sunglasses do not offer sufficient sun radiation protection because they are designed for you to look INDIRECT LY at sun rays REFLECTED off surfaces, such as the road while you are driving. They are NOT designed for you to safely look DIRECTLY at the sun.

If I have had LASIK and/or cataract surgery with UV-protecting IOLs, do I still have to wear the solar eclipse glasses?


If I have not had LASIK and am wearing prescription glasses, can I look at the sun with my glasses?

No. One should never view a solar eclipse through regular prescription glasses alone. In fact, if you wear glasses, you will have to put the solar eclipse glasses over them, so the solar eclipse glasses will be farther away from your eyes, which will increase the chance of solar radiation reaching your eyes from the side. So having LASIK (and no longer needing to wear prescription glasses) creates the advantage of being able to put the solar eclipse glasses directly over your eyes, minimizing side gap sun exposure.

If I use the proper ISO 12312-2 solar eclipse glasses, can I look at the sun for an extended period of time?

No. Even with proper solar eclipse glasses, you should only look at the sun for a very short duration (i.e., a few seconds), and then you should turn your head away for awhile. After the eyes have rested, you can turn your head towards the sun again for a few more seconds.

If I am wearing the solar eclipse glasses, is there any point during the eclipse that I can look at the sun for more than few seconds at a time?

You can look at the sun through the solar eclipse glasses for more than a few seconds at a time ONLY during the TOTAL solar eclipse phase (i.e., for Nashville: 1:27pm-1:29pm on Mon, 8/21).

How can I make sure my children are wearing the solar eclipse glasses properly?

You should first put a pair of the ISO 12312-2 solar eclipse glasses on your child, then ask the child to watch and do exactly what you do as you put a pair of the glasses on yourself.

Once I am done viewing the eclipse, what should I do?

While you are STILL WEARING the solar eclipse glasses, turn your head away from the sun, and remove the glasses ONLY AFTER you have completely turned your head away from the sun. DO NOT remove the solar eclipse glasses while you are still looking at the sun.

Can my dogs and cats look to at the eclipse safely?

Keep pets away from exposure to the solar eclipse altogether.

What are the symptoms of solar eye damage, and when do they occur?

The symptoms typically occur within a few minutes or hours of exposure. The symptoms are:

  • Watery eyes
  • Sore eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • Blind spot in the center of vision
  • Things appear unusually colored
  • Things appear to be distorted and blurry
  • Cannot see details

What should I do if I experience these symptoms?

See an ophthalmologist or optometrist right away, since you may have suffered solar eye damage.

Is solar eye damage permanent?

Sometimes it is transient (resolving in 3-4 weeks), but sometimes partial sight loss can be permanent.

How can I get more information about how to use the solar eclipse glasses properly, so my family members and I can view the eclipse safely? Also, were can I find solar eclipse glasses, and how much do they cost?

There are four companies in the US that manufacture and sell solar eclipse glasses that meet the International Safety Standard (ISO 12312-2). However, since a total solar eclipse is so rare (i.e., most people experience them only once in their lifetime), the solar eclipse glasses are being purchased in large quantities, so they are back ordered at most of the companies. The good news is that Wang Vision Institute has ordered a limited quantity of these hard-to-find solar eclipse glasses and will give a FREE pair to each attendee of our free educational seminar at near Wang Vision Institute on Thurs, 8/17/17, 6:30pm. At the seminar, I will explain and demonstrate step-by-step the proper way to use the glasses, answer the attendees' questions about viewing the solar eclipse safely, and discuss prevention of eye injuries and sight loss. To register for the eclipse seminar and receive a FREE pair of solar eclipse glasses,, or call 615-321-8881, or email

Eclipse, your cell phone, and sight loss

This is the FIRST time, that a major solar eclipse lands in U.S. when we have such a wide spread use of cell phones. Hence, there is now an UNPRECEDENTED risk, perhaps the FIRST time in human history, that potentially significant (and untreatable!) solar eye injuries can occur in a LARGE number of people, due to the LACK OF KNOWLDEGE and the widespread use of cell phones particularly as videoing or photography devices.

Many solar eye injuries (solar retinopathy) are irreversible, and the sight losses (central blind spot) are permanent, such as what happened in the major solar eclipse in India in 1980's.

Today, our cell phone use is even much more ubiquitous than that in the 1980's.

So, this is an important public safety message.

Public needs to know, public needs to be educated, about the risk of sight loss with unsafe viewing of eclipse, and public needs to know what to do, what NOT to do.

At a time when everybody wants to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience, and when everybody has a cell phone in his/her hands, it is critically important, to learn the SAFE way of enjoying the eclipse with your phones!

Many cameras, telescopes, and digital cell phones such as iPhone actually concentrate, focus and amplify light intensity. Hence, looking through these devices with naked eyes while viewing solar eclipse IS in fact MORE dangerous than with naked eyes alone.

The proper way of taking photos or videos of the eclipse using your camera (or telescope or cell phone), is to place the ISO 12312-2 solar eclipse safety filters IN FRONT OF the lens of these optical devices.

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