How to safely watch the solar eclipse

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Savahn, Daylen Kai and Seth Larsen are all co-authors of a book called, "The View from Mars." Mars is the main character.

"His name is Mars, so it's a play on words," Kai said. But right now, the view from Earth seems just as cool!

As the kids checked out the sky, they said they can?t wait for Monday's solar eclipse.

"It'll be really cool," said Daylan. "So exciting because it comes every like 89 years, once in a lifetime, so I'm really excited to see it," added Kai.

But University of Southern California Roski Eye Institute's Dr. Hossein Ameri, who is an ophthalmologist, said it's crucial that you're prepared to watch the big event.

"Every time you look at the sun or solar eclipse, it can damage your eyes," Ameri said.

Just like when you point a magnifying glass toward the sun and it burns paper, the eye also has its own magnifying glass system: the cornea and the lens. And when you look directly into the sun, it doesn't burn paper -- it burns the back of your eyes.

"In severe cases, the damage can be permanent. They're like neurons, they do not regenerate," Ameri said.

The destruction of your central vision can happen in seconds, Ameri said. That's why it's so important to make sure you wear glasses that are approved. Look for ones that meet ISO requirements.

Dr. Ameri said destruction of your central vision can happen in seconds. The only safe glasses: ones that meet the ISO requirements. Look for glasses with "ISO 12312-2" printed on them.

If you've had a pair for years, don't use them. As for new ones, beware of scratches.

"If they're damaged, they're not safe to use," Dr. Ameri warns.

In Southern California, the moon will cover about 60 percent of the sun. At no time will it be safe to look without protection. If you don't have glasses, Dr. Ameri suggests making a pinhole camera out of paper and foil. Or peer at the eclipse's reflection in a pot of water.

Sunglasses are not adequate because they still let in enough light to burn your eyes.

"Even if you put multiple ones on top of each other, they're still not protective," said Ameri.

With their safety-approved glasses, the Larsen kids have their eyes on the sky as they focus on a sequel for their main character Mars.

"We're gonna try to write a second book as soon as we can," said Kai.

Next week's solar eclipse has them reaching for the stars and beyond.
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