The safest way to view an eclipse is with official eclipse viewing glasses.
Bates, who still has vision in his left eye, plans to watch upcoming eclipse on television.
"Once you get a hole in your retina, it just doesn't work."
"The sunlight gets really concentrated off the sun, so that concentration of the energy - it's like taking a big light and focusing it like a laser, and that concentration of light can cause retinal holes ... that potential damage to the retina is pretty much irreversible".
We all have a natural aversion to staring at very bright lights, but we also have the ability to overcome it.
"Even though we're not going to have the total eclipse, you still can get eye damage from looking at a partial eclipse, so it is very important to protect your eyes", said Dr. Stepien.
NASA's live stream is another option for watching the eclipse. Dark sunglasses and homemade filters are not safe for looking at the sun.
Another thing to avoid is using a telescope, binoculars, or camera to view the eclipse - Schmidt likened this to using a magnifying glass to burn ants, except the retina would be the object of the burn. When you have the real deal, you won't be able to see a thing but the sun.
"These glasses basically turn day to night", he noted. Make sure they are certified with ISO 12312-2 standards. You can buy the glasses online - the cardboard-frame versions cost just a few dollars - but check the American Astronomical Society's list of reputable vendors first. Many of our local libraries even offer these glasses for free.
"My strong, strong advice is take the two minutes to order the glasses for yourself and your family and then enjoy the eclipse without worrying that you're going to blind yourself by looking at it", Van Gelder said.
"It's so risky for people to look at the sun even for brief periods of time because you can cause permanent damage to the retina - we call it solar retinopathy and it's really very close to burning a hole in the retina".
Of course, during the event even with proper eclipse glasses, you'll need to put them on BEFORE you look at the sun and look AWAY from the sun before you take them off again.
The rare event will be history on the afternoon of August 21, but you'll want to keep your eyes as healthy as possible.