By Jim Melwert

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The solar eclipse is about two and a half weeks away, but if you want to see it safely, now is the time to plan.

The only time it would be safe to look directly at the eclipse is when the sun is completely covered by the moon, but that won’t happen here in the Philadelphia region.

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Doctor Todd Bainbridge from Bainbridge Eye Care Associates says looking at the sun during an eclipse could cause permanent damage.

“The optics of the eye that bring light to focus it on the retina effectively act like a magnifying glass that you may have burned ants with as a child. So in effect you’re taking that same sun energy and concentrating it, which in this case would cook your retina rather than an ant,” said Bainbridge.

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He says the safest way is to use indirect viewing like a pin-hole camera. To look at the eclipse, you’ll need a proper filter. He says there are special glasses sold online, but adds there are reports of counterfeit glasses with inadequate filters, so link through a trusted site, like or the American Optometric Association’s site,

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The filters are aluminum polyester, also known as Mylar. However the AOA warns that does not mean a Mylar balloon would be sufficient.

A welders’ shield #14 or higher is also safe.

For more viewing tips, click here.

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