Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Unsafe to watch directly the solar eclipse.

Download PDFDownload PDF

Media Release

Senator the Hon Kay Patterson Minister for Health and Ageing


December 3, 2002

The Federal Minister for Health and Ageing, Senator Kay Patterson, has warned Australians that there is no safe way of directly viewing tomorrow's solar eclipse. She warned that people must not look directly at the eclipse. Senator Patterson said: "I want to emphasise to the public that there is no safe way of directly watching an eclipse of the sun. Serious permanent eye injury, even blindness, can result from viewing the eclipse."

She said there would be considerable interest from the public to view the solar eclipse when it passes over rural South Australia and into the northwest corner of New South Wales and Queensland tomorrow night.

Senator Patterson said: "My Department has received advice from the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists and the Optometrists Association of Australia that there is no safe way of directly looking at any eclipse of the sun.

"In particular, sunglasses, binoculars, telescopes and welders masks should not be relied upon for direct viewing because none of these items provide protection from the risk of developing permanent damage to the eyes."

Senator Patterson said one of the safest ways of viewing the eclipse would be via the television, with all stations expected to cover the event in their news services and bulletins. The CSIRO will also have a live telecast of the eclipse on their website.

"I can't stress enough the importance of this warning because many people may not be aware of damage being done to their eyes because the visual damage from viewing an eclipse directly is not accompanied by pain," she said.

"The damage caused, however, can last a lifetime," Senator Patterson said.

The safe alternative to viewing the eclipse on the CSIRO website can be found at

Media Contact: Randal Markey, Office of Senator Patterson 0417 694 520

[Media Releases Index] [Search] [Feedback]

copyright| Disclaimer | Privacy | Security

Published on Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing web site 5 December 2002 Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing URL: