Our corner of Texas will see two solar eclipses in the next six months. On Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023, a solar eclipse will be visible from much of Central and South Texas at 11:52 a.m. This annual “ring of fire” eclipse should last about four minutes. The time it begins will vary slightly by your physical location.
Then, on April 8, 2024, San Antonians will be among the lucky Americans to see a total eclipse of the sun. This eclipse will be similar to the one that crossed the Midwest in 2017. During this total eclipse there will be a few moments of total darkness as the moon completely obscures the sun.
While eclipses are fascinating to watch, you must prepare to view them safely.
How to View a Solar Eclipse Safely
It is tempting temptation to look directly at the sun. Don’t! Doing so could lead to serious eye injury or permanent vision loss. Even with a partial eclipse, the remaining crescent or ring of fire is still intense enough to cause retinal burn in seconds, despite the appearance of twilight.
Standard sunglasses, including UVA and UVB, will not provide enough protection. The remaining visible rays are still intense enough to cause eye injury or vision problems. Protective eyewear must have an ISO 12312-2 marking on them to be considered safe for looking at the sun during an eclipse.
- Check to see how much of the eclipse will be visible. It will NOT be safe to remove appropriate eye protection during the October 2023 eclipse in the San Antonio/New Braunfels region.
- Purchase solar eclipse glasses approved by the International Organization for Standardization.
- Make a pinhole camera if you want to be exceptionally safe and avoid looking at the sky. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has simple instructions.
- See NASA’s website for more tips.
Symptoms of Eye Damage from Eclipse
- Blurred vision that does not improve
- Light sensitivity
- Blind spots in one or more eyes
- Watery eyes
- Eye soreness
- Difficulty recognizing shapes
- Gritty feeling in the eyes
- Red eyes
- Swelling around eye or eyelid
What to Do if Your Eyes Are Injured
You might not feel the damage until several hours or days later. If you or anyone you know has these symptoms after watching the eclipse, they may have solar retina damage or photokeratitis, which is like sunburn to your eye.
Remove any contact lenses immediately, use a cold compress and preservative-free artificial tears and immediately call an eye care professional.
Solar eclipses are rare events in the U.S. We should all enjoy the wonders of the universe, but let’s take precautions to do so safely.
Want to learn more about eclipses? Visit NASA’s eclipse website and Watch NASA’s YouTube channel of the October eclipse in real-time.