It’s the big event happening this summer that will have millions of Americans pausing to gaze at the daytime sky.
And if you’re planning to be one of them, there’s a very important precaution you’ll need to take first.
I’m talking, of course, about the total solar eclipse, when the moon will pass in front of the sun, completely blocking it in some locales. Exactly how long it will last will depend on where you are.
As I’m sure you know, looking into the sun during an eclipse can do some serious damage to your eyesight — it could even blind you. But what you may not be aware of is that the protective lenses you may be planning to wear to protect your eyes could be as phony as a three-dollar bill!
The good news is: There’s a very simple way to get the right kind of “eclipse glasses” that will give you the protection needed in time to keep your eyes as safe as possible.
Here comes the moon!
On August 21, the moon will make its way between the sun and the Earth, giving practically everyone in North America a shot at viewing at least part of an eclipse. And if you miss it, that won’t be on the calendar in this part of the world again until 2024!
But no matter where in the U.S. you’ll be on the 21st — even if you’re not in the “path of totality,” a swath across the country that cuts through parts of Oregon, Nebraska, Tennessee, and South Carolina — you’ll still need to protect your eyes if you’re going to be looking toward the sun.
And that means you’ll find eyewear to view the eclipse with being sold all over the place — but not all of them will actually shield you from the damaging effects of those ultra-strong rays that could literally burn your retina.
Now, eclipse glasses (which kind of look like those old 3D movie viewers) are dirt cheap, costing just a few bucks for a pair. So why in the world would dangerous rip-offs be flooding the market?
One reason could be that manufacturers have to send their products to special labs to certify that the filtering complies with rigorous safety standards. Then — and only then — do the glasses get to sport a logo saying they are ISO (International Organization for Standardization) compliant and therefore safe to use while looking at the sun.
But get this: Scammers have copied the ISO logo and certification off the Internet and slapped them on pairs of their so-called eclipse glasses that could possibly seriously damage your vision if use them to look directly at the sun!
Talk about robbing you blind!
Obviously, this is nothing you want to mess around with. If you’re determined to witness this cosmic event, you have to be absolutely sure your eyes won’t end up becoming a casualty.
And you can do that by following these four tips:
#1: Forget about using sunglasses. No matter how dark or expensive they are, sunglasses will not protect your eyes from being damaged by the sun’s rays during an eclipse.
#2: Since so many counterfeit ISO logos are being slapped on inferior eclipse glasses, your best bet, according to the American Astronomical Society (AAS), is to only purchase glasses from a list of reputable manufacturers. (I’ll give you a link at the end with names). You should be able to find these certified eclipse viewers at stores such as 7-Eleven, Walmart, and Toys “R” Us, as well as online.
#3: If you already happen to have a pair of these glasses, make sure they aren’t scratched or damaged, and throw them away if they are over 3 years old. (The last eclipse visible from the U.S. was in 2014!)
#4: Do not view an eclipse through a camera, telescope, binoculars, or other optical device that isn’t fitted with a special solar filter. In fact, along with harming your eyes, pointing an unfiltered camera toward the sun can destroy your camera’s imaging sensor. And eclipse glasses will not protect your eyes if you’re also looking through any of the equipment listed above that doesn’t have its own special filter. Doing so will make the sun’s rays even more concentrated, and that can seriously damage your vision even if you’re wearing eclipse glasses.
If you already wear eyeglasses, you should be able to put these special protective viewers right over them to keep your vision clear.
To see the brands that the AAS recommends, copy and paste this address into your web browser: eclipse.aas.org/resources/solar-filters.
“Solar-eclipse fever means counterfeit glasses are flooding Amazon’s market” Elijah Wolfson, July 27, 2017, QUARTZ, qz.com