Here’s why your eclipse-viewing glasses might not protect you

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) – If you bought special viewing glasses for this month’s big solar eclipse, you may want to double-check that they are legit. 

Right now, the American Astronomical Society (AAS) is warning people about counterfeit products popping up across the country. 

These days, savvy e-commerce shoppers can find just about anything online, and eclipse-viewing glasses are no exception.  A quick search on third-party retailer sites like eBay and Amazon pulls up dozens of options, but buyers beware — they might turn out to be the worst bargain you have ever bought. 

“You can get significant vision loss, and the problem is, it’s permanent,” said Dr. Nick Mamalis, Professor of Ophthalmology at the Moran Eye Center.

Experts initially told people to look for glasses with the ISO 12312-2 certification label, but now, the AAS is warning consumers about knock-off retailers grabbing the graphic off the internet and putting it on any old pair. 

“It’s just such an intense light.  Think of like a magnifying glass when it focuses the sunlight,” Mamalis said. 

Dr. Russell Van Gelder in Seattle recently demonstrated just that using a magnifying glass and paper, to show how quickly damage happens without proper coverage.  

“Your retina is basically like this paper,” he explained, as the reflection burned a hole through the paper in a matter of seconds. 

Mamalis backs him up. He says the only way to truly keep yourself safe is to know exactly who you are buying from.  He advises anyone planning to catch of glimpse, August 21st, to use only reputable vendors like the ones listed on the AAS website.  

“It’s really critically important,” he reiterated. 

If you have already bought your glasses and are not sure if they are real, put them on and notice how dark the lenses are.  Experts say if you can see through them in normal light, that is a sure sign they are counterfeit.  Click here for more eclipse safety tips from the AAS. 

The Moran Eye Center ran out of their verified viewing glasses earlier this week.  They say the Clark Planetarium still has plenty.

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