Expert: How to safely watch the April 8 solar eclipse – and why sunglasses won’t cut it

Apr 3, 2024

3 min

David Hinkle

On April 8, the moon will pass between the sun and the Earth, creating a spectacular celestial event that will also be the last solar eclipse to cross the continental U.S. until 2044.

While many will be eager to look upward as the moon moves to block the sun’s rays, it’s important to prioritize proper eye protection, said David Hinkle, the Oliver and Carroll Dabezies Chair of Ophthalmology at Tulane University School of Medicine.

“It’s never a good idea to look directly at the sun, whether there’s an eclipse or not,” Hinkle said. “The eclipse will last a few minutes. Eye damage can last a lifetime.”

Ahead of the April 8 solar eclipse, Hinkle offers advice on how to protect your eyes, what to avoid and the dangers of staring at the sun.

Let’s start with the bad news: What happens if you stare at the sun for too long?

You can actually get a burn in your retina. Your cornea and your lens are very good at focusing light, so they can focus the light from the sun directly onto the retina, resulting in a retina burn or solar retinopathy. That’s often a permanent effect that leads to a significant loss of central vision, and since your eyes are looking the same direction, there’s a good chance that can happen to both eyes, causing legal blindness.

What can solar eclipse viewers do to protect their eyes?

There’s a few different ways. Many folks on YouTube have guides for building pinhole viewers that can project the eclipse onto the ground. The most popular way of looking at the eclipse is with eclipse glasses, but the important thing to know is to get the version with the ISO 12312-2 filter, which is approved by the International Organization for Standardization. Some libraries offer them for free or you can order them online, as long as you buy from a reputable organization. And finally, NASA will have a livestream of the solar eclipse. Just don’t use your own camera or phone, as that’s also not a good idea.

Some who have heavily polarized sunglasses for everyday use may think those offer enough protection. Is that true?

No, eclipse glasses have a very dark filter in them, so you really can’t see anything when you put them on. They’re designed to filter out 99% or more of the light. Anything that lets enough light in so that you can see through or walk around in would not be safe.

The eclipse has what’s called a path of totality. For the 13 states in this path, there will be a 1-to 4-minute span of time when the sun is completely blocked by the moon. For states outside the path, the sun will never be fully obscured. For those watching outside the window of totality or in a city outside the path, is there ever a time when someone can look at the eclipse without eye protection?

No there really isn’t. It’s never safe to look at an eclipse, and it can certainly cause harm. The sun’s rays are powerful and can burn your retina very quickly, so make sure to wear proper eye protection with the appropriate filter.

Connect with:
David Hinkle

David Hinkle

Oliver and Carroll Dabezies Chair and Professor of Ophthalmology

An ophthalmologist who specializes in retina-vitreous diseases and uveitis, Hinkle can speak on most topics related to eye health and care.


You might also like...

Check out some other posts from Tulane University

1 min

Expert: Historic password breach creates public urgency for better password protection

Cybercriminals recently executed a significant breach, stealing the world’s most extensive collection of passwords. These stolen credentials, a staggering 10 billion unique passwords, have been uploaded to the notorious RockYou2024 database, a hub for cybercriminal activity. Tulane University cybersecurity expert Demetrice Rogers says the stolen passwords are a significant vulnerability for most users and underscore the need for strong password management. With malicious actors now armed with an extensive database of nearly 10 billion unique passwords, the risk of successful hacks on unsuspecting users is significantly higher. "The massive growth of the RockYou2024 password list shows just how tough it’s getting to keep our accounts safe. Hackers will love this list, making it a go-to tool for breaking into accounts. We need strong, unique passwords and multi-factor authentication to stay one step ahead. Think of it like locking your doors and setting the alarm—essential steps to keep the cybercriminals out." Rogers can cover: • How users can check to see if their information and passwords are included in the leak. • The importance of creating strong, unique passwords for each account and using reputable password managers to generate and store them securely. (Many users use the same password across multiple websites, making an attacker’s job much easier.) • Why adopting multi-factor authentication is increasingly important to ensure account security.

2 min

Are soaring home insurance rates in Gulf Coast states coming for the rest of the country?

The Gulf Coast faces an expected active 'above-normal' hurricane season, with many insurance carriers withdrawing from the market. Homeowners are left with skyrocketing rates and dwindling coverage options. Louisiana bore the brunt with four major hurricanes in 2020 and 2021, causing $75 billion in combined damage. The state passed a series of insurance reforms to attract more insurance companies, following in the footsteps of Florida. Insurance woes for homeowners aren’t just a coastal issue. Homeowners in the Midwest are struggling with insurance carriers because of damage from the record amount of tornadoes. Wildfires in the US are also a growing threat to insurance carriers, accounting for an annual total cost between $394 billion and $893 billion. Christopher Otten, an insurance and legal expert at Tulane University’s A. B. Freeman School of Business, is available to speak about the impact of new hurricane insurance regulations in several states, the challenges of holding insurance carriers accountable from state to state and the difficulties property owners face in finding hurricane insurance. Christopher can also discuss: • Why insurance markets differ among the states in the Gulf Coast region. • The Fortified Roof incentive programs • Affordability and the need for more carriers to improve competition and pricing risk. Christopher Otten Quote: “The Gulf States are the canaries in the coal mine right now for insurance markets,” Otten said. “It’s probably going to get worse before it gets better. A quiet hurricane season, as unlikely as that is, will help things some – but that doesn’t mean rates will not go up or down. They may increase less than they otherwise would have. With these new laws, particularly in Louisiana, it will take a hurricane for us to know how the new regulations are shaping out.” Contact Roger Dunaway, assistant director of media relations, for interviews at

2 min

Vulnerability exposed: Car dealerships grapple with fallout from cybersecurity attacks

Nearly 15,000 car dealerships across North America are still struggling to operate after a massive cyberattack has crippled their software systems. As more vehicles become connected to the Internet and reliant on digital systems, cyberattacks pose a serious risk to businesses and consumers. Tulane University cybersecurity expert Demetrice Rogers is available to discuss the next steps in auto industry recovery efforts and what other industries can learn from the incident to avoid repeat attacks. Professor Rogers can speak about: 1. The implications for data security and privacy and the possible compromise of sensitive customer data, including personal information and financial details. 2. Specific cybersecurity weaknesses within the automotive industry that made these car dealerships targets for the cyberattack. 3. Offer insights into effective cybersecurity measures and best practices that car dealerships can implement to strengthen their defenses against future cyber threats. Quote from Demetrice Rogers: “The preliminary reports indicate that the attack on CDK Global was a ransomware incident. Their systems will essentially be held hostage until specific demands, likely monetary, are fulfilled. Initial reports indicate CDK plans to pay the ransom, which could be tens of millions of dollars, to the attackers. I would expect systems to slowly come back online, with some data and processes unavailable until they have fully recovered.” “This situation highlights the critical need for an effective backup and disaster recovery program. Organizations should routinely test their recovery capabilities to ensure preparedness for such incidents. Additionally, it is generally recommended not to comply with hackers' demands or pay the ransom. While it is true that some companies opt to pay (though this is rarely publicized), it is usually more prudent to activate a well-prepared disaster recovery plan.” Contact Roger Dunaway, assistant director of media relations, for interviews at

View all posts