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Are your solar eclipse sunglasses counterfeit?

Safe way to view an eclipse photo by Mark Mathosian / Flickr

The solar eclipse on August 21st will be the first to cross the entire United States in almost 100 years.

Millions of people will be descending on areas of the United States that many people have never heard of before, hoping to catch a glimpse of the full solar eclipse. Some of them may end up being partially blinded due to using counterfeit sunglasses purchased over the internet.

Serious damage to your eyes can result from looking at the eclipse directly, with glasses that aren’t specifically designed for viewing, or with counterfeit viewers that are flooding the market.

Preventblindness.org says that exposing your eyes to the sun without proper eye protection during a solar eclipse can cause “eclipse blindness” or retinal burns, also known as solar retinopathy. This exposure to the light can cause damage or even destroy cells in the retina (the back of the eye) that transmit what you see to the brain. This damage can be temporary or permanent and occurs with no pain. It can take a few hours to a few days after viewing the solar eclipse to realize the damage that has occurred.

It is important that you make sure the eclipse glasses you purchased or are about to purchase are the real deal.

How do you know if your eclipse glasses are safe and not counterfeit?

The American Astronomical Society previously advised people to look for evidence that the glasses comply with international safety standards for filters of direct viewing of the sun by ensuring the following was printed on the glasses: ISO 12312-2.

The American Astronomical Society says it is no longer enough to check for ISO certification on eclipse glasses. Make sure they come from a reputable vendor also.

“But now the marketplace is being flooded by counterfeit eclipse glasses that are labeled as if they’re ISO-compliant when in fact they are not,” AAS said. “Even more unfortunately, unscrupulous vendors can grab the ISO logo off the internet and put it on their products and packaging even if their eclipse glasses or viewers haven’t been properly tested.”

Nasa and the American Astronomical Society describe in great detail where to buy your eclipse glasses and from whom. So click on the above link to the AAS to find the names of reputable vendors.

USA Today posted some tips from the American Astronomical Society:

• Don’t search for eclipse glasses on the internet and then buy whatever pops up in the ads or search results. Check the society’s list of reputable vendors before buying: eclipse.aas.org/resources/solar-filters.

• Check to see what you can see through the glasses. You shouldn’t be able to see anything through a safe solar filter except the sun itself or something comparably bright, such as a bright halogen light bulb. If you can see lights of more ordinary brightness, and you’re not sure the product came from a reputable vendor, it’s no good.

• 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.

• If you get your glasses from a friend who happens to be an astronomer, they’re probably compliant. That’s also usually the case with products fromprofessional astronomical organizations, such as college and university physics and astronomy departments, and amateur-astronomy clubs.

• If you suspect that you got bad glasses, ask the seller for a refund or credit and replace them with a product from a reputable vendor.

• Before using your glasses, inspect them. If scratched, punctured, torn, or otherwise damaged, discard them.

• Read and follow any instructions printed on or packaged with the filter.

• Supervise children using solar filters.

Find more safety tips at https://aas.org or https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/safety.

You can sign up for Act in Self Defense classes at: fonsecamartialarts.com/self-defense

If you are interested in a Personal Safety/Self-Defense Class for you, your child’s high school, college, business, or organization contact me at ekress@ameritech.net.

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