UB Ophthalmologist Shares Excitement, Cautions About Total Solar Eclipse in Buffalo

Release Date: March 20, 2024

Andrew L. Reynolds; Department of Ophthalmology; Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences; University at Buffalo 2016.
“Kids are definitely more at risk for eye injury. ”
Clinical associate professor of ophthalmology

BUFFALO, N.Y. – During the total solar eclipse that’s happening on April 8, Buffalo will experience more than 3 minutes of totality, the time when the Earth, the sun and the moon are in total alignment and the moon is completely blocking the sun.

In this video, Andrew L. Reynolds, MD, clinical associate professor of ophthalmology in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, shares information on how to be safe.

Reynolds is a pediatric ophthalmologist who provides patient care at UBMD Ophthalmology at the Ross Eye Institute.

What do you want folks to know about the total solar eclipse on April 8?

Reynolds: First, be sure to get NASA-approved solar eclipse glasses for you and your family. Erie County is making safe solar glasses available at the Buffalo Science Museum and at all 37 branches of the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library. (Visit the Buffalo Museum of Science website for more information about eclipse glasses.)

Be sure your glasses have the following code on them: ISO 12312-2. This indicates they are NASA-approved.

Regular sunglasses are not safe to use during the afternoon of April 8. Binoculars, telescopes and camera viewfinders are also not safe to use unless they are equipped with specific solar filters.

When is it safe to look at the sky without eclipse glasses during the afternoon of April 8?

Reynolds: The only time that it will be safe to look up at the sky during the afternoon of April 8 is from about 3:19 to 3:21 for optimal safety. The moon will be completely blocking the sun for about 3 minutes, from 3:18 to 3:21, but to be safe, we ophthalmologists are suggesting that the 2 minutes of peak totality are safe to look at the sun without protection. Otherwise, wear your eclipse glasses.

What will it look like?

Reynolds: Even though it’s the middle of the afternoon, it will look and feel like it’s nighttime during a full moon. Temperatures can drop as much as 10 or 15 degrees. For just those 2 minutes, you will be able to take off your NASA-approved solar eclipse glasses and look at the sun.

Here's the schedule:

From 2:04 to 3:19 p.m.: You MUST wear your solar eclipse glasses to look at the sun.

3:19 to 3:21 p.m.: It is safe to look at the sun because the moon will be directly in front of it. Even though Buffalo will be in totality for a bit longer, we are advising our patients and the public that this is the only time you can safely take off your eclipse glasses to view the sun as it’s blocked by the moon.

3:21 to 4:32 p.m.: You MUST wear your solar eclipse glasses to look at the sun.

What do parents and others need to know about children and the eclipse?

Reynolds: Kids are definitely more at risk for eye injury. As we age, our eyes get a little cloudier, but kids’ lenses are absolutely clear, so their retinas are more susceptible to sun damage. The sun could literally burn a hole in your retina, making a black spot in the middle of your vision. And, unfortunately, there’s no way to treat it.

Remember: Kids will be kids, so they do not assess risk well.

Most public schools in Western New York will be closed and so will lots of businesses. Make sure your kids are being closely supervised by you or by someone responsible that you trust. And make sure they have their solar glasses so they can safely view this once-in-a-century phenomenon!

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