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Safety warning for eclipse watchers

Wednesday January 5th 2011

People who watch the solar eclipse without protecting their eyes could suffer visual impairment, a medical expert has warned.

The eclipse will take place on January 4 and looking at the moon passing between the sun and the earth directly may result in blindness, according to the Government's Interim Chief Medical Officer.

Dame Sally Davies is urging parents to ensure that their children do not watch the eclipse without protection as it could cause permanent damage to their eyes.

She said: "Children are particularly vulnerable as they may be tempted to take a peek. We would urge parents to explain the danger to their children.

"We would not wish to see another case like the young boy who lost his central vision back in October 2005 through looking directly at a partial eclipse in his school playground."

Looking at the eclipse through a telescope, binoculars or camera is dangerous, instead people can enjoy the astronomical event online or on the television.

Dame Davies added: "Under no circumstances should people look directly at the sun during a partial eclipse.

"The risks of doing so are very real and could lead to irreversible damage to eyesight and even blindness."

Copyright © Press Association 2010

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