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Protecting your eyes during the solar eclipse - KTVQ.com | Q2 | Continuous News Coverage | Billings, MT

Protecting your eyes during the solar eclipse

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Just before and after totality, the eclipsed sun takes on the appearance of a diamond ring as shafts of sunlight blaze through canyon's on the moon's rugged limb. (RICK FIENBERG/TRAVELQUEST INTERNATIONAL/WILDERNESS TRAVEL) Just before and after totality, the eclipsed sun takes on the appearance of a diamond ring as shafts of sunlight blaze through canyon's on the moon's rugged limb. (RICK FIENBERG/TRAVELQUEST INTERNATIONAL/WILDERNESS TRAVEL)
BILLINGS -

The solar eclipse is on Aug. 21, and if you plan on watching the most important thing to have is proper eye wear.

Dr. Brian LaGreca of the Eye Clinic said in a place like Billings, where there were only be a partial eclipse, those watching need to have proper eye protection for the duration of the event.

"You need to have the glasses on at all times because the concentrated light will damage the eye,” said LaGreca. “Specifically it will damage the retina and you will end up with a persistent scotoma or a spot where you just can’t see any longer."

Unfortunately at this point you would be hard pressed to find solar eclipse glasses in the Billings area.

Places that did carry them have sold out and now customers must go online to websites like Amazon to purchase the glasses.

But it is important to note there are scammers out there selling products that could cast a shadow over the spectacle and seriously damage your eyes.

"They need to have a particular certification,” said LaGreca. “An ISO certification and its ISO 12312-2.  If your eclipse glasses don't have that certification then they're not safe to watch the eclipse with.”

LaGreca said once you receive your glasses it is important to inspect them for any damage.

“If there is any defect, if there is a scratch on the lens if there’s a pinhole or some damage has occurred, then you need to have a different pair of eclipse glasses."

LaGreca said sunglasses will not work as a substitute but a welding helmet may, as long as it is at least a shade 14 and is in good condition.

For those who want to learn more about the eclipse, the Billings Library is hosting a free event on Wednesday from 1-3 p.m. They will hand out a limited number of glasses to those in attendance. 

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