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Don’t look up: eye safety important even with 60% eclipse in Manitoba

Manitoba isn’t expected to get the full solar eclipse experience Monday afternoon, but eye specialists say you still shouldn’t look directly into the sun, eclipse or otherwise.

Winnipeg optometrist Irene Mestito-Dao told 680 CJOB it seems like common sense, but excitement around the rare celestial event might cloud people’s judgment.

“Most people will know (not to look), but when it comes to things like the eclipse, curiosity always makes people want to look up and look at the sun … and if you look it at too long, it can cause solar retinopathy,” Mestito-Dao said.

Symptoms of solar retinopathy include blind spots, blurry vision, visual distortion, sore eyes, and watery eyes, and the damage won’t be apparent right away.

“You don’t know when it’s happening. You only realize it’s happening after it’s done and you look away and (think), ‘Oh, wait, something’s off’.”

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If you do plan to check out the eclipse, Mestito-Dao said, your best bet is a pair of eclipse glasses or a pinhole projector.

Click to play video: 'Preparing for total solar eclipse in Manitoba'

Preparing for total solar eclipse in Manitoba

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While Manitoba won’t be centre stage for the event, experiencing about a 60 per cent eclipse, Scott Young of the Manitoba Museum and Planetarium said there are still ways Winnipeggers can experience the eclipse safely.

“The sky’s not going to get dark. The animals aren’t going to change their behaviour or anything like that,” Young said.

“In fact, if you weren’t looking for it specifically, you probably wouldn’t even notice there was an eclipse going on.

“That 40 per cent of the sun that’s still exposed is still so bright that most people won’t even notice the difference.”

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Young said a viewing party from 12:30-3 p.m. at The Leaf in Assiniboine Park is a good place to view the eclipse safely, and that live streams will also be available on the Planetarium’s website.

Monday’s eclipse is set to start just before 1 p.m. and reach its peak around 2 p.m.

Click to play video: 'Total solar eclipse in Manitoba'

Total solar eclipse in Manitoba

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