You’ve already marked your calendar and told all your friends where to meet up. But before you finalize your plans for the 2017 solar eclipse (which will be visible across the United States on August 21), there are some safety concerns to consider.\nWitnessing a solar eclipse is one of the most spectacular sights, but it can also be dangerous \u2014 especially to your eyes.\nFind medical care when you need it by visiting UPMC CareFinder.\u00a0\nSolar Eclipse Eye Safety and More\nAre you fully prepared? Follow these safety tips so you can enjoy this phenomenal event:\nPurchase Solar-Viewing Glasses\nEven if you’re not in the direct path to view the total eclipse of the sun, you still need proper solar-viewing glasses.\nMany people don’t know they can purchase these glasses, and may think they’re a scam. However, solar-viewing glasses are necessary if you want to avoid permanent damage to your eyes from viewing the solar eclipse. Here’s what to look out for when purchasing your solar-viewing glasses:\n\nSunglasses won’t cut it. Normal sunglasses (even if they’re polarized) won’t protect your eyes from the damaging effects of the solar eclipse.\nLook for a label that says ISO. (This stands for International Organization for Standardization.) Glasses should have an ISO 12312-2 certificate printed on them.\nBuy from a reputable vendor. The American Astronomical Society recognizes multiple companies that make and sell approved solar-viewing glasses.\nEnsure your glasses are free of scratches and flaws.\nAdditionally, don’t look at the eclipse through a telescope, binoculars, a camera, or any other lens or device, as NASA explains.\n\nYou can find these glasses at local convenience and hardware stores.\nKeep in mind: If you’re viewing the eclipse from the Pittsburgh area, you may only get a partial view of the eclipse.\nLearn more about the UPMC Eye Center\nTravel Safely\nIf you’re planning to travel to get a good view of the eclipse, you’re not alone. The Federal Highway Administration expects traffic conditions to be worse than usual because of the rare event.\nBe sure to make arrangements for extra travel time. Study your route so you know where the rest stops are and where you can buy gas and food.\nAdditionally, hotel accommodations will be hard to come by. Consider alternate overnight plans like a campground or staying with friends or relatives. You also don’t want to plan to stop on the side of the highway to view the eclipse \u2014 get off the road and safely park your car before taking any photos and avoid traveling when the eclipse is happening.\nPrepare for Overwhelming Crowds\nAn event like the solar eclipse doesn’t often happen. So you should expect parade-like crowds and traffic congestion.\nBe sure to get to your viewing location with plenty of time to spare to stake out some space for you and your family or friends. Also, collect the contact information for everyone in your group, and establish a meeting spot on the outskirts of the crowd in case you get separated.\nThere’s only a little time left before the big event! Make sure you follow these preparations so you can sit back, relax, and enjoy this momentous occasion.