S6E25: What you need to know about the total eclipse of the sun with New Brunswick Optometrist Dr. Alexis Keeling

Most of New Brunswick will experience an afternoon total eclipse of the sun on Monday, April 8, 2024. The timing of this rare occurrence is causing lots of excitement – and some anxiousness.

Parents want to make the most of the event while ensuring everyone’s safety. To put your mind at ease, we asked New Brunswick Association of Optometrists president Dr. Alexis Keeling to join us and answer questions such as:

  • How do I know if these solar eclipse glasses are actually certified?
  • Why isn’t it safe to look at the eclipse directly?
  • Are pets in danger if they’re outside during the eclipse?
  • How to enjoy this experience without going outside and looking at the sun?

Fore more information on eye safety, visit the Canadian Association of Optometrists’ website. We’ve also included some Dr. Alexis Keeling’s comments about the upcoming total solar eclipse below for quick reference.

The Jenna & Tosh Show is a co-production of Pickle Planet Moncton and The Podcast Hub, and is recorded & aired by Rogers TV New Brunswick. Follow us for a new episodes each Monday!

“It’s important to never look at the sun. It doesn’t matter whether there’s an eclipse or not. The sun is a powerful thing that can damage our eyes.”

“Make sure that if you are going to look up at the sun that you’re wearing certified eclipse glasses. These are not sunglasses. These are 200 times darker than sunglasses. You put them on and you look up and you find the sun because that’s the only thing you’re going to see.”

“If you look at the sun and you’re not wearing these, you can do permanent damage to your eyes and cause blindness for the rest of your life within seconds. And that’s kind of the thing we need to keep people safe about. We don’t want to scare anybody. We just want to make sure everybody is ready and well educated and has a really good time safely.”

“It needs to have a certification number. ISO 1, 2, 3. 1, 2, 2. I’ve said it so many times, it sounds like my phone number! Some of them have a best before date, they should have a warning. They are made of aluminized polyester. There’s two thick layers of that. So as long as you have these certification requirements, they should be good.

“As the president of the New Brunswick Association of Optometrists, we distributed 200 pairs to every optometrist in New Brunswick. Call your local optometrist, get in, get a pair for your family so that you know that everyone’s eyes are safe.”

“Kids have larger pupils, so that’s another reason why our youngsters are at more risk of damage inside the eye. It would only take less seconds for them to have damage than someone older with a smaller pupil who would look up would be about more seconds than a child.”

“When we look up at anything, we use an area the inside of our eye called the macula, and it’s about the size of a pinpoint. And I’m sure you’ve heard of macular degeneration. It’s a condition that happens to some people as they get older. So the macula is a very fine detailed central vision, and that’s what we look at things with in detail. There are no pain receptors in the back of the eye. So damage happens there during an eclipse if someone’s looking at it without protection and they don’t know they’re doing damage. And there’s a period we call a latent period of about 24 hours to 48 hours where the person wakes up the next day and says, I can’t see with my central part of vision. I can see your hair, but I can’t see your face because the macula has been damaged and we don’t know what the prognosis is. Prognosis means. We don’t know if that’s going to get better. We have to sit and wait and watch and see if their eye will get better with the possibility of them being permanently blind with their central vision. So that’s the risk that we take when we don’t wear these glasses.

“It is natural instinct to not look at the sun. You do not have to worry about your cats, your dogs or the birds in the wilderness. Animals are smarter than we are.”

“There are so many other things to think about and look at during an eclipse. So it mimics nighttime and dusk. So you’re going to look around, you’re going to see the birds starting to nest in the trees. Things are going to get quiet. And then as the moon moves away and the sun comes back out from underneath it, things will wake up again. So it’s a really neat, cool opportunity, not just about the sun and the eclipse, but about what’s going on in the animal world around us.”

“This eclipse in New Brunswick is going to happen around 3:30, ending around 5:30, and that’s exactly the time those school bells ring. And people are let out of school and the kids are kind of left on their own to go to the bus stop and walk home from the bus stop. And with the curiosity and all this talk about the eclipse, there was that risk that our young, vulnerable kids could look up and have the damage done. So that’s why the decision was made to let them have that afternoon to go home and be with their parents or their babysitters or at a daycare so that they’re supervised and they’re safe.”

“It’s not a quick thing that happens. It is over a few hours. Totality – where it’s completely dark, like night – is not very long, probably about 10 minutes before it starts to slide over the other side. But in completion it’s about a two hour event.

“What if it’s cloudy? So we may not need these glasses. We’re all going to be inside experiencing this from our TVs. There’s been a device that was actually developed by a New Brunswick, retired physicist, and it’s a weather balloon that goes up with cameras. So make sure to tune in as well online. Don’t just spend all your time outside.”

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