Your Eclipse-Viewing Glasses Might Be Fake—Here’s What You Should Know
There’s still time to get a vetted pair of glasses.
Thousands of people are flocking to hotspots throughout America next week to catch a glimpse of the highly anticipated total solar eclipse.
But they won’t be able to safely view the celestial phenomenon on Aug. 21 without proper protection—and it turns out some retailers are selling fake eclipse-viewing glasses that could hurt your eyes.
In fact, some people who have already purchased their glasses from Amazon and other retailers may have bought knockoff or counterfeit shades. Over the weekend, Amazon said it was issuing refunds to customers who bought these ill-equipped glasses.
Since staring directly at the sun can cause permanent eye damage, the American Astronomical Society (AAS) recommends viewers wear specially designed glasses while looking at the solar eclipse—whether they’re standing in the path of totality in places like Nashville or Casper, Wyoming or looking at a partial eclipse from elsewhere.
Here are some tips for how to spot a phony pair of glasses, and how how to get your hands on some real ones before the big day.
What Are Eclipse Glasses?
Astronomers and ophthalmologists recommend viewers wear glasses that are specifically designed for staring directly into the sun. These glasses meet the ISO 12312-2 standard, or the international safety standard for viewing sunlight while blocking solar UV rays and IR radiation, according to the AAS. (The standard can also be read as ISO 12312-2:2015.) These glasses look like ones you would wear to see a 3D movie, and are often made of cardboard and contain dark lenses. If the glasses come torn, scratched, punctured or if the filters are coming loose, discard them, the AAS says.
Proper products are marked with this standard, but counterfeit ones may also include the indication as well, the AAS warns. To be sure your glasses are real, make sure they came from a vetted vendor (see more about that below).
Where to Buy Safe Eclipse Glasses
Due to issues with counterfeits and falsely labeled glasses, the AAS created a list of vetted and reputable vendors for customers to purchase glasses from.
Verified glasses are available through a number of ways: online ordering, purchasing from astronomy- and science-related organizations, or picking them up for free from a solar eclipse viewing site or from a variety of retail stores.
The AAS created a comprehensive list of the dependable locations to get glasses, as well as filters for viewers to buy for their telescopes, binoculars, and camera lenses, too. That list can be found here.
While many of the sunglasses listed are already sold out, some are still available, including this pair of "Edu Science Sun Catcher Solar Eclipse Sunglasses" that are on sale for $1.99 at Toys 'R Us.
What to Do If You Have a Fake Pair of Glasses
If you think you have a fake pair of glasses, first check to see if it has the proper labeling that indicates they meet the ISO 12312-2 standard. If they do have the labeling, cross check the vendor you purchased them from with the list provided by the AAS. If they are not cited on that list, the AAS recommends contacting the vendor directly and demanding a refund.
In the case of glasses purchased off Amazon, customers will likely get a full refund if they report the faulty glasses.
Luckily, with a week left before the solar eclipse, there’s still time to get a verified and protective pair.