By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna
Millions of Americans will watch the Aug. 21 solar eclipse and have already purchased (or will) 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 between genuine protective gear and fake glasses/viewers as some counterfeit makers are placing ISO labels on them. The American Astronomical Society (AAS) 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.
Community residents can experience the eclipse safely, but it is vital that they protect their eyes at all times with the proper solar glasses and viewers. NASA safety tips for watching the eclipse.