Potential health hazard to be aware of as the total solar eclipse passes through the Quinte area April 8

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Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) is reminding people to take safety precautions in advance of the rare total solar eclipse that will take place next month.

On April 8, 2024, between 2 and 4:33 p.m., certain areas of Hastings and Prince Edward Counties will witness this incredible celestial event as a solar eclipse passes through. During a solar eclipse, the moon aligns between the Earth and the Sun, casting a shadow on the Earth’s surface. Regions within the path of totality will experience complete darkness for a brief period, commencing around 3:20 p.m.

The HPEPH is urging residents to exercise caution during the eclipse due to the risk of eye damage.

“It is not safe to look at the sun without approved eye protection,” stated Dr. Ethan Toumishey, Medical Officer of Health for HPEPH, in a media release. “Looking at even a small sliver before or after the eclipse without proper eye protection can be harmful to your vision.

Toumishey explains that symptoms may not show for 12 to 48 hours and could involve retinal burns, blurred vision, and temporary or permanent vision loss.

“Unfortunately, once symptoms start, it is usually too late to reverse damage, so prevention and protection of your eyes is critical,” he warns.

Dr. Toumishey emphasizes the importance of using specialized eye protection adhering to the ISO 12312-2 international standard. These glasses should be carefully inspected for any signs of damage before use and should completely cover the field of vision. Additionally, he advises against looking directly at the sun without protective eyewear, particularly during the peak of the eclipse.

The health unit also advises that children should always be supervised during eclipses, as they may not fully comprehend the risks involved.

“If you experience any changes to your vision during or after the eclipse, speak to your optometrist or your health care provider as soon as possible,” the health unit says. “If you experience blindness, seek emergency care immediately.”

If appropriate eye protection is not available, alternate viewing strategies should be considered, such as an eclipse box or a LiveStream

For more information about eye safety and proper viewing devices during the eclipse, visit the HPEPH’s Solar Eclipse page.

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