Where to find safe, inexpensive eclipse glasses

Don't Waste Your Money
Posted at 11:09 AM, Aug 09, 2017

Everyone is buzzing about the upcoming August 21st solar eclipse. Even if you are not in the direct line of the eclipse, many people still want to see at least a partial eclipse.

As a result, demand is soaring for glasses for viewing it.

NASA caution about non-approved eyewear

But before you grab the first pair of "eclipse glasses" you find online, eye professionals are warning you to be careful of non-approved,or even counterfeit glasses that might not provide any protection at all.

Shoppers we spoke with were a bit confused. Dawn Garrison is hearing conflicting advice about what to do.

"I understand we shouldn't look directly into the sun," she said,  "so perhaps dark sunglasses maybe might be a good idea."

But skip the sunglasses, optometrists and experts at NASA say. In fact, they say sunglasses can give a false sense of security, that it is OK to look into the sun if they are dark enough.

The problem is that no pair of sunglasses is dark enough to block the sun's harmful rays.

Optometrist Josiah Young, ofOpticare Vision Center in Newport, KY, said "if you use regular sunglasses you could possibly do some permanent damage to your retina."
Instead, Young said, search for NASA approved cardboard glasses, with an "ISO" logo.

"I would go off the official NASA recommendation and use  one of their eclipse viewing shades" he said.

Where to find safe glasses

Many libraries and eye doctor offices have been handing out officially approved glasses free of charge, but many of them report they are running out.

You might be able to purchase official glasses for less than $5 at:

  •  Some grocery stores (including select Kroger stores)
  •  Walmart
  •  Home Depot
  •  Lowe's
  •  Toys R Us
  •  Some Ace Hardware stores

However, you should call the store before you drive there.  Many stores report they have completely run out of glasses.

These stores are selling official ISO approved glasses.  For NASA's full list of recommended glasses, CLICK HERE.

NASA, meantime, has issued an alert about glasses sold by third-party vendors online, where you can't guarantee they are the real thing and meet the sun blockage standards. It has reports of some glasses using counterfeit NASA and ISO logos.

Amazon has said that the glasses it sells all meet NASA guidelines, but it cannot guarantee the same with all its third-party vendors.

Can't find glasses?  What then?

Finally, if you cant find glasses anywhere (they are selling out at stores in hours), Young said welders glasses can work in a pinch.

"If you have welding glasses, you can use shade 14 or darker," he said. 

However, Young and NASA warn that standard arc welding glasses might not be dark enough: They must say shade 14.

With any type of glasses, you should not be able to see anything around you when looking through them. If you can make out trees, cars or houses, the glasses are not dark enough.

Safe, old school approach

Finally, if you can't find glasses, or simply don't trust any of them, optometrists say you can make an old fashioned projector, by putting a pin hole in a piece of cardboard and watching the sun's shadow.

You can easily find instructions online on how to make them. A shoebox can work, but just two pieces of cardboard held a distance apart can work too.

You watch the projected image, with no risk of sun damage.

Whatever you decide to do, remember that cheap sunglasses can be worse than nothing at all, as they may encourage you to look directly into the sun.

So don't hurt your eyes and don't waste your money


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