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A guide to finding safe eclipse viewing glasses

TYLER, Texas (KETK) – In two and a half weeks, thousands of people will travel to East Texas for a prime view of the total solar eclipse. With so many flocking to the Piney Woods, people are scouring for eclipse-safe viewing glasses.

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According to NASA, no pair of regular use sunglasses will be safe to view the eclipse through. On average, eclipse glasses are thousands of times darker than normal sunglasses. Officials said that viewing lenses have to be certified in compliance with the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard in order to be considered safe for eclipse viewing.

As people start to pick up their protective eyewear, make sure you’re looking for the ISO certification on the inside of the glasses.

“Prevention is worth a pound of cure,” said Dr. Damon Smith, Christus Trinity Mother Frances optometrist.

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That’s why it’s important to start thinking about eye safety right now.

“It can cause macular burns, potential permanent vision loss, blind spots. So we need to be watching the children closely,” Smith said.

The American Astronomy Society (AAS) warned that prior to the total eclipse in 2017, several glasses labeled as ISO-compliant that were not actually compliant were circulated.

In order to avoid fakes, AAS made a list of manufacturers that are known to be ISO-compliant.

Where can I get solar eclipse glasses?

The list of reputable manufacturers by the AAS is the following:

  • Grafix Plastics (sheets & rolls, wholesale only)

  • Halo Eclipse Spectacles

  • American Paper Optics / eclipseglasses.com

  • Seymour Solar (sheets only)

  • American PaperWear (Solar Rollens viewers only)

  • Flip’n Shades (clip-ons for baseball caps)

  • DayStar Filters

  • Rainbow Symphony

  • Thousand Oaks Optical

The AAS also said that glasses received from a science museum or planetarium are almost certainly ISO-compliant. They also said that while it is impossible to verify ISO-compliance without lab testing, it is easy to check if lenses are not safe for viewing. The AAS said that ISO-compliant glasses should block all light except for the sun, or a comparably bright light.

East Texas cities are expected to see thousands of visitors, and they want everyone to enjoy the view while staying protected.

“Visit Lindale has ordered nearly 30,000 eyeglasses to be distributed,” Visit Lindale tourism director Seong MacLaren said.

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Smith reminds people to make sure they have the correct eye gear.

“If you focus the sun’s energy on the retina and burn the retina, create solar retinopathy, you’re going to end up with permanent vision reduction,” Smith said.

He warns not to use binoculars or telescopes either, and to make sure you get your glasses from trusted vendors only to enjoy a safe and stellar event.

“People need to grab a pair of glasses, protect their eyes, and enjoy this cosmic phenomenon that’s going to happen,” MacLaren said.

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