SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – People in the Upstate can’t stop talking about the total solar eclipse happening on August 21.
It’s natural to want to look to the sky and watch this rare phenomenon but medical experts want to make sure people do so safely.
Some parts of South Carolina are in the direct path of totality, meaning people will be able to see the moon cover the sun with their bare eyes for just a few a minutes.
It’s important to protect your eyesight in the minutes leading up to and directly after those moments of totality.
There are safety glasses made to watch the eclipse that are certified to block 99.9999 % of sunlight.
Grant Brown, a master optician at the Greenville Health System Eye Institute, says staring directly at the sun with your bare eyes even for just a few seconds could cause serious damage.
“With these (glasses) you’ll be able to see the progress across in the minutes right up to the total eclipse and the minutes right after the total eclipse safely. That’s the key to it,” Brown told 7News. “If you’re in Spartanburg, some of the surrounding areas, you will never get to that total and you’ll want to watch the whole thing through these filters. It only takes one or 2 percent of the sun to really cause some damage.”
Families planning to watch the eclipse with children need to keep their age in mind.
Brown says parents need to be sure they can trust children not to take off their safety glasses unless parents tell them to.
“It’s a trust thing, It doesn’t take much. It’s going to look strange. It’s going to look very interesting and it’s not going to hurt, so monitoring children is going to be a major thing,” Brown said. “Rehearse ahead of time: how to put them on, how to take them off. Do not take them off to compare the two.”
The GHS Eye Institute is giving away the certified safety glasses for free.
There has been such a high demand for the glasses there is now a waiting list.
People can visit any of the three Eye Institute locations in the Upstate to put their names on the waiting list: Greenville (104 Simpson St.), Spartanburg ( 333 S. Pine St.) and Easley (109 Fleetwood Drive, Suite B).
For more safety tips from GHS, click here.