Scam Solar Eclipses Glasses - Avoid Scamm Glasses and Blindness - What You Need to Know to View the Solar Eclipse

How the solar eclipse happensFake Solar Eclipse Viewing Glasses - How to Avoid the Scam... And Blindness!

Most people realize that the sun pumps out a lot of radiation and looking directly at it can damage your eyes and vision. But NASA tells us that for a brief total phase of a solar eclipse (the "totality" phase), when the moon entirely blocks the sun's bright face you can look at the eclipse for that 2 minute duration. But it's crucial to know when to take off and put back on your glasses.  And "totality"  will happen only within the narrow path of totality (see the map at right or on this page)

And now people are buying

What happens if you look at the eclipse without the special glasses?

Solar retinopathy is the name for the disorder that happens when the sun's rays damage or destroy the photoreceptors that in your retina The retina is the back of the inside of your eyeball that takes the light collected by the lens and changes it to electrical impulses. According to a professor of optometry on NPR, photoreceptors convert light into the electrical signals which are then sent by nerve cells to the optic nerve and the brain. If they are damaged by the sun, they may take 3-6 months to recover, if they do at all. If they don't you go blind. The damage isn't immediately apparent because the light-sensitive cells of the eye will keep working for hours after the injury before finally dying. "Typically, people go home after an eclipse thinking everything is fine, says Chou. Then they wake up the next day and can't see."

What type of eclipses viewing glasses do you need and where to get them?

Eclipse glassLooking directly at the sun is unsafe except during the total eclipse, in the center of the eclipse path.).The only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as "eclipse glasses" (example shown at right) or hand-held solar viewers. These glasses are made to meet  meet proper ISO 12312-2 international safety standards that ensure they will block the harmful radiation and only let visible light through.

Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the sun; they transmit thousands of times too much sunlight. You eyes can and will be damaged without you even feeling it nor realizing it until later.  Thin k of it like a sunburn.  You don't realize your skin is getting burned until it is already damaged and turns red.  But eyes do not recover from this damage!

See this page for much more information about getting legitimate solar eclipse viewing glasses and how to safely use them.


Scam Glasses and Unsafe Glasses

First thing too know is, real solar viewers are thousands of times darker than regular sunglasses. They are more like a welder's mask - looking through them in regular light, you see nothing, they are p[itch black.

NASA tells us, unsafe filters include color film, some non-silver black and white film, medical x-ray films with images on them, smoked glass, photographic neutral density filters and polarizing filters. Solar filters designed to thread into eyepieces which are often sold with inexpensive telescopes are also dangerous. They should not be used for viewing the Sun at any time since they often crack from overheating. Do not experiment with other filters unless you are certain that they are safe. Damage to the eyes comes predominantly from invisible infrared wavelengths. The fact that the Sun appears dark in a filter or that you feel no discomfort does not guarantee that your eyes are safe. Avoid all unnecessary risks. Your local planetarium or amateur astronomy club is a good source for additional information.

How to detect scam glasses

Unfortunately, it can be very hard to detect the scam glasses.  The counterfeiters will print the same ISO numbers and other information on them and they will look identical to the genuine glasses.  Except of course, the lens will not stop the harmful radiation. The only way to be sure your glasses are good, is to buy them from a reputable seller (see the list above) who will test batches of the glasses, inspect the factories or have other quality control measures in place (we hope!)

 You shouldn't be able to see anything through a safe solar filter except

  • the Sun itself or something comparably bright, such as
  • the Sun reflected in a mirror, a sunglint off shiny metal,
  • the hot filament of an unfrosted incandescent light bulb,
  • a bright halogen light bulb,
  • a bright-white LED flashlight (including the one on your smartphone), or
  • an arc-welder's torch.

All of these should appear quite dim through a solar viewer. If you can see lights of more ordinary brightness through your eclipse glasses or handheld viewer, and you're not sure the product came from a reputable vendor, it's a scam or defective Safe solar filters produce a view of the Sun that is comfortably bright (like the full Moon), in focus, and surrounded by dark sky. If you glance at the Sun through your solar filter and find it uncomfortably bright, out of focus, and/or surrounded by a bright haze, it's no good. You should contact the seller and demand a refund or credit for return of the product.

Where to get real, non-scam glasses?

Refer to the American Astronomical Society (AAS) Reputable Vendors of Solar Filters & Viewers page (see it below)for a list of manufacturers and authorized dealers of eclipse glasses and handheld solar viewers verified to be compliant with the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard for such products.

Some (not all) locations in the following retail chains sell ISO-compliant safe eclipse glasses and/or handheld viewers made by the companies listed at the top of this page, so you can confidently buy solar viewers if you find them in their stores - but not on their websites, as some chains use different suppliers for their websites than they do for their stores. Links are provided only to help you locate the retail store nearest you.

Retail Chains Selling Legitimate  Solar Eclipse Viewing Glasses

Online & Other Vendors

Keep in mind, many of these online vendors require a couple of weeks in advance to ship.

FREE eclipse glasses from libraries:

The Space Science Institute's STAR_Net initiative has distributed more than 2 million ISO-compliant safe solar eclipse glasses to more than 6,900 libraries all across the U.S. To find out which libraries near you are holding eclipse-related events and distributing free eclipse glasses, see the library map on the STAR_Net website.

FREE eclipse glasses from NASA:

NASA has distributed more than 1.5 million ISO-compliant safe solar eclipse glasses to its officially designated viewing locations around the country, including sites of high-altitude balloon launches and Citizen CATE observations. See NASA's event map for viewing locations near you.

FREE eclipse glasses from Astronomers Without Borders:

Astronomers Without Borders is giving away ISO-compliant safe solar eclipse glasses to needy groups willing and able to pay the cost of shipping and seeks donations to offset the cost of the glasses.

How to use the glasses

  • Always inspect your solar filter before use; if scratched or damaged, discard it. Read and follow any instructions printed on or packaged with the filter.
  • Always supervise children using solar filters.
  • Stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer before looking up at the bright sun. After looking at the sun, turn away and remove your filter - do not remove it while looking at the sun.
  • Do not look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars, or other optical device.
  • Similarly, do not look at the sun through a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device while using your eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewer - the concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter your eye(s), causing serious injury.
  • Seek expert advice from an astronomer before using a solar filter with a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device. Note that solar filters must be attached to the front of any telescope, binoculars, camera lens, or other optics.
  • If you are within the path of totality (, remove your solar filter only when the moon completely covers the sun's bright face and it suddenly gets quite dark. Experience totality, then, as soon as the bright sun begins to reappear, replace your solar viewer to look at the remaining partial phases.

  • Outside the path of totality, you must always use a safe solar filter to view the sun directly.

  • If you normally wear eyeglasses, keep them on. Put your eclipse glasses on over them, or hold your handheld viewer in front of them.

Note: If your eclipse glasses or viewers are compliant with the ISO 12312-2 safety standard, you may look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed Sun through them for as long as you wish. Furthermore, if the filters aren't scratched, punctured, or torn, you may reuse them indefinitely. Some glasses/viewers are printed with warnings stating that you shouldn't look through them for more than 3 minutes at a time and that you should discard them if they are more than 3 years old. Such warnings are outdated and do not apply to eclipse viewers compliant with the ISO 12312-2 standard adopted in 2015. To make sure you get (or got) your eclipse glasses/viewers from a supplier of ISO-compliant products, see the American Astronomical Society (AAS) Reputable Vendors of Solar Filters & Viewers page.



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