Eclipse: Health ministry urges viewers to use protective gear
Posted Friday, October 25 2013 at 13:30
Kampala- The Ministry of Health has warned people who are eagerly waiting to view the Hybrid Solar Eclipse not to do it with their naked eyes as they risk losing their eyesight.
The eclipse is expected to take place on November 3, at 4:20pm and will last for two minutes. The best scene for this has been identified in Owiny Sub-county near Pakwach in Nebbi District.
Parts of the eclipse will also be viewed throughout the country.
The ministry advised the public to use proper equipment like; negatives without images used as double layers, pin holes (made by passing a pin through a hard paper or cardboard), black kaveeras (polythene bags), compact discs and floppy discs.
“These may not be entirely safe, but they are a lot safer than nothing at all. Welders’ glasses and pin-hole cameras are relatively safer though not perfect,” Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, the director general of health services, said in a statement yesterday.
Dr Aceng also said when one looks at the sun for a long period without proper eye protection, the rays affect the retina which may lead to visual damage.
“The injury created is dangerous because it is not detected immediately as no pain is sensed. The extent of the damage can be witnessed after about seven hours with one eventually becoming blind,” she added.
She said the commonly used filters like colour films, black and white films, binoculars and telescopes do not offer adequate protection because they also transmit some radiation which may damage the eye.
“People are advised not to view the eclipse through a mirror or through water in a basin because the sun rays will be directly reflected straight into the eye with a high intensity,” Dr Aceng cautioned.
According to Dr Aceng, the only time the sun can be viewed safely with the naked eye is during a total eclipse, when the moon completely covers the disk of the sun.
According to the Ministry of Health, a number of people have in the past been identified to be at risk of visual impairment after enjoying this spectacular moment because they never used the proper gadgets.
People with optical conditions such as retinal dystrophies or albinism or who have undergone certain forms of eye surgery are more at risk if they don’t use the recommended gadgets.