Caribbean population warned ahead of eclipse of sun

Monday, August 21, 2017

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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) — Caribbean people are being warned to take preventative measures to avoid blindness as they are set to witness a rare partial eclipse later Monday as the moon passes between the sun and the earth.

“Looking at it is not worth it. Prevention is better than cure,” warned Dr Patrick Martin, the former chief medical officer in St Kitts-Nevis.

“Protect your eyesight. Protect your child's eyesight. Never stare at the sun; not even for a second. A partial eclipse of the sun starts around 2:20 pm on Monday. It will last for 2.5 hours. Do not look directly at the sun, or at it through sunglasses of any kind, colour film, x-ray film, a camera, binoculars or telescope,” he said.

Dr Martin also warned that sun radiation causes temporary or permanent injury ranging from blurred vision to cataracts to dark spots in the retina.

“A solar eclipse may be viewed only through approved lens stamped ISO 12312-2. They are all sold out. Fake lens are being sold. Do not buy them. Your eyes are irreplaceable,”' he said.

The Caribbean Institute of Astronomy (CARINA) said the Eastern Caribbean countries will experience the eclipse from 2.20 pm (local time) through 4:50 pm, while in Jamaica, it will be observed from the 12:51 (local time) and lasting for 2 hours and 43 minutes.

The Jamaica Ministry of Health has also issued a warning to people against viewing the eclipse with the naked eye.

“It is important that persons refrain from looking at the sun during this period as it can cause permanent damage to the eyes,” said chief medical officer, Dr Winston De La Haye.

“The only way to look directly at the sun when it is eclipsed or is partly eclipsed is with a special solar filter, such as eclipse glasses or a hand-held solar viewer,” he added.

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