It’s not hype: You absolutely need special glasses to watch the eclipse

SEATTLE - Monday’s solar eclipse will be the first for many Seattlelites.

"The sky's going to go dark for a few seconds and then everything is going to go back to normal,” said Blaire Einfalt who is still deciding if she will wake up to watch the eclipse.

"I don't have high hopes or low hopes, it's just going to happen,” said Kenny Marcuson, who says Monday will be his first eclipse experience.

The last solar eclipse was in 1979. Monday’s total solar eclipse will mean Seattle will see a partial eclipse that will make the sky look like twilight in the morning.

"We’re hosting an event at Facebook, on our decks and passing out sunglasses, everyone’s excited,” said Chelsea Kremple.

The solar viewing sunglasses are all the hype around the Pacific Northwest and around the country as the eclipse nears.

Doctors say because Seattle is just outside the path of totality, it makes it even more important to have the right eye protection.

"The partial eclipse is actually more dangerous than the total eclipse,” said Dr. Russ Van Gelder, director of the UW Medicine Eye Institute at Harborview Medical Center.

He says once damage is done to the eye, it can be permanent. Van Gelder says people looking to view the eclipse should look for evidence the glasses comply with the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard for filters for direct viewing of the Sun.

"The energy of those rays is enough to cook the retina. Even a few seconds viewing the sun can leave a scar on the retina that can be permanent,” said Van Gelder.

Seattleites tried out the solar viewing glasses that are 1,000 times darker than typical sunglasses.

"I see the sun, my eyes aren't burning,” said Einfalt.

The point of the extra dark lenses is that they only work when people look directly at the sun, otherwise, “Wow I see nothing, when I look straight it's just black,” said Kremple who tried on the glasses.

The eclipse on Monday morning also has SDOT warning drivers to be aware it will be like nighttime for a few minutes in the morning and to do what they would as if they were driving at night. That means turn on headlights, be extra cautious of people walking around distracted by the event and if drivers need to stop to pull off the road and park away from traffic.

"I’m pretty excited, I know everyone’s going down to Oregon, I hate traffic, I love the sun and the moon, but I’m probably gonna Google pictures on Monday,” said Einfalt.

The next eclipse hitting North America will be in April of 2024, with the totality path running from Texas to Maine.

Eclipse viewing glasses will be handed out on a first come first serve basis at many viewing events across the Puget Sound area on Monday. Most stores in Western Washington have sold out of the glasses.