Protect your sight: Chicago Public Libraries giving away eclipse glasses


Photo of eclipse by Romeo Durscher

Excitement over the August 21 Solor Eclipse is being tempered with warnings about eye safety. The Chicago Public Libraries (CPL) are helping keep people's eyes safe with a giveaway of eclipse glasses.

On Mon., Aug. 14, Chicago Libraries will be giving away free glasses. "However," says Lisa Roe, Branch Manager, Bucktown-Wicker Park Library, 1701 N. Milwaukee Ave., "our supplies are very limited."

The giveaway is limited to two per person. That person must be 14 or older and have a CPL library card. 

"If you don't have a library card," says librarian Shelley Hughes, West Town Branch, 1625 W. Chicago Ave., "we'd love to help you get one.

"Bring in your ID with your current Chicago address, or any picture ID plus a piece of mail sent to your current Chicago address in the last 30 days, and we'll get you ready to go! Free glasses are just one of the many benefits to your library card (and hey, you pay taxes so we exist, might as well use us)!"

Why glasses?
Never look directly at the sun during a solar eclipse," advises Prevent Blindness. "Exposing your eyes to the sun without proper eye protection during a solar eclipse can cause “eclipse blindness” or retinal burns, also known as solar retinopathy. This exposure to the light can cause damage or even destroy cells in the retina (the back of the eye) that transmit what you see to the brain. This damage can be temporary or permanent and occurs with no pain. It can take a few hours to a few days after viewing the solar eclipse to realize the damage that has occurred." 

What to do
NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) reminds people to:

  • Stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer before looking up at the bright sun. After looking at the sun, turn away and remove your filter — do not remove it while looking at the sun.
  • Do not look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars, or other optical device.
  • Similarly, do not look at the sun through a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device while using your eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewer — the concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter your eye(s), causing serious injury.

Why is this eclipse so special?
The last time there was a total eclipse visible across all contiguous United States was on June 8, 1918. It will be visible in other countries but only as a partial eclipse. 

What is this eclipse's path?
While the eclipse will be a total one in Chicago, that is not true elsewhere in Illinois. One website provides detailed information about when and where the heavens will darken across the country. 

Enjoy, but be safe…protect your eyes.




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