Great American Eclipse: How to spot fake glasses, handheld viewers

The Great American Eclipse will be an amazing sight to see Aug. 21 when it crosses the country coast to coast — the first time since 1918.

MORE: #SkyWitness7

Locally the eclipse won’t be total, but 90 percent, according to the Storm Center 7 meteorologist team.

RELATED: Get ready for the eclipse

Viewing the total solar eclipse requires specific eclipse glasses or handheld solar viewers, not regular sunglasses.

It’s dangerous to look directly at the sun, especially during an eclipse without adequate eye protection.

WATCH: When will the solar eclipse be visible in your community?

"Even the tiniest sliver of a crescent sun peeking out from behind the moon emits enough light to scorch your eyes,” Ralph Chou, professor of optometry and vision science at the University of Waterloo in Canada told Space.com

Chou said about half of patients diagnosed with eclipse blindness regain full vision in six months. But the other half partially or never recover, he said.

RELATED: What you need to know about the Great American Eclipse

But how do you avoid getting scammed, and potentially blinded, by knockoff eclipse glasses targeting unsuspecting consumers? 

NASA gives advice on what to look for before buying eclipse viewing glasses and handheld solar viewers. Safe glasses, solar viewers must meet all the following criteria:

  • Certification information with a designated ISO 12312-2 international standard 
  • The manufacturer's name and address printed somewhere on the product 
  • Do not use if it’s older than three years or lenses have tears, scratches or wrinkles
  • Do not use homemade filters or regular sunglasses, even dark ones 

Leading up to the Great American Eclipse next month, the marketplace is being flooded by counterfeit glasses, which can falsely advertise they meet the international standard.

How do you know which manufacturers make safe eclipse glasses and solar viewers?

NASA and the American Astronomical Society said there severak manufacturers that meet the international standard to look directly at the sun.

Some include:

  • American Paper Optics
  • Baader Planetarium (AstroSolar Silver/Gold film only)
  • Rainbow Symphony
  • Thousand Oaks Optica
  • TSE 17 
  • For the full list, click here

Approved retail chains selling certified glasses are

  • Best Buy 
  • Bi-Mart 
  • Casey's General Store 
  • Hobby Town 
  • Kirklands 
  • Kroger 
  • Lowe's 
  • Maverik
  • 7-Eleven
  • Pilot/Flying J 
  • Walmart

NASA also recommends that whatever recommended safety device you use, give your eyes a few breaks and do not stare continuously at the sun. Keep your special glasses on throughout the eclipse.

NASA: Eclipse 101

Where can you find solar eclipse glasses or solar viewers?

You can purchase the glasses on the manufacturer’s websites or through online retailers. Or, you might be able to find a free pair from your local library. Check your library to find out availability. 

You can keep for solar eclipse glasses for the next eclipse event in 2024, as long as they haven’t been damaged.

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