(WASHINGTON, DC) – Millions of Americans will watch the August 21 solar eclipse and have either purchased or will purchase eclipse glasses or handheld solar viewers to do so. Some of these people may be at risk from counterfeit glasses and viewers sold by disreputable vendors trying to cash in on this rare event.
Watching the eclipse with fake protective gear can cause permanent eye damage, making this a community risk reduction issue.
Only glasses and viewers verified by an accredited testing laboratory to meet ISO 12312-2 are safe to use when viewing the eclipse. This standard requires glasses and viewers to be thousands of times darker than typical sunglasses. It may be hard to tell the difference, however, between genuine protective gear and fake glasses or viewers as some counterfeit makers are placing ISO labels on them.
The American Astronomical Society has guidance to help eclipse watchers determine if their eclipse glasses or handheld solar viewers are safe. In addition, NASA recommends that eclipse watchers refer to the AAS’s website for a list of reputable vendors selling solar glasses and viewers.
Fire and EMS departments can help by alerting residents to the dangers of fake glasses and viewers by spreading the word through their communications channels, especially social media.
How to view the 2017 solar eclipse safely
You can experience the eclipse safely, but it is vital that you protect your eyes at all times with the proper solar glasses and viewers. You can find NASA’s safety tips for watching the eclipse here.