News & Events

Planning to view the eclipse? Follow these tips to stay safe.

Date: 03/21/2024

Excitement is building in the Maine Highlands Region for one of the most rare and spectacular sights that nature has to offer. With the total solar eclipse only a few short weeks away, Northern Light CA Dean and Mayo Hospitals are reminding the community to take precautions to stay safe while enjoying the eclipse.
“Staring at the sun for even a short period of time can damage the retina permanently. You may get a false sense of security because the sun isn’t as bright, but even viewing a sliver of the sun for a short time can cause permanent eye damage,” says David McDermott, MD, a family physician and physician leader at Northern Light CA Dean and Mayo Hospitals.
It’s important to view the eclipse through safe solar viewers that meet the ISO 12312-2 standard for safety. Popular options include specially made eclipse glasses with plastic or cardboard frames, and handheld solar viewers, usually with plastic frames. Ordinary sunglasses, including the dark ones, cannot protect the eyes when looking at the sun directly during a solar eclipse. A special filter is needed to view the eclipse with a camera, telescope, or binoculars, even when using eclipse glasses or a handheld solar viewer at the same time. 
To stay safe while viewing the eclipse, consider these tips from the American Astronomical Society and Northern Light Eye Care providers:
  • Stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or handheld solar viewer before looking up at the sun. Do not remove them while looking at the sun.
  • If you normally wear eyeglasses, keep them on. Put your eclipse glasses on over them or hold your handheld solar viewer in front of them.
  • Inspect glasses and solar filters before use. Discard them if they are scratched, punctured, or otherwise damaged.
  • Do not look at the uneclipsed, partially eclipsed, or annularly eclipsed sun with an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars, or other optical device when, even if you’re using eclipse glasses or a handheld solar viewer.
  • Always supervise children while viewing the eclipse to ensure they’re doing so safely.
  • You must always use eclipse glasses, a handheld solar viewer, or another safe device to view the sun directly.
“Looking at the exposed sun without the proper protection can cause damage to the retina, and the problem can persist for several months or even be permanent. The best way to stay safe is to make sure you have a solar viewer that meets the international safety standard and use it on eclipse day. If something doesn’t seem right after the eclipse, follow up with a healthcare provider,” adds McDermott.
CA Dean and Mayo Hospitals are helping the community stay safe by distributing eclipse glasses and safe viewing information in schools. A limited number of glasses are available at the Northern Light Health Centers in the region. Several local businesses are also handing out glasses.
While protecting your eyes is important, there are other factors to keep in mind during an event of this magnitude. With potentially thousands of people visiting our region, consider allowing extra time for travel, filling up on gas, keeping a few extra groceries on hand, and refilling prescriptions before April 8.
CA Dean and Mayo Hospitals are working with local and regional law enforcement, the Piscataquis Emergency Management Agency, emergency medical services (EMS), and others to prepare for the eclipse. The hospitals are boosting EMS coverage, ordering extra medical supplies, stocking up on medications used to treat eye injuries, and increasing Emergency Department staffing. CA Dean and Mayo Hospitals will also provide information to visitors about what to do if medical care is needed.