How You Can Tell If You Accidentally Bought Fake Solar Eclipse Glasses for Your Kids
On August 21, parents across the country will take their children outside to look up at the sky to check out a rare total solar eclipse. But they might be risking their children with major eye damage if they’re not accurately protected. In order to safely watch the solar eclipse, you need very special glasses to protect your children’s eyes from the sun’s rays. And if you don’t know what to buy, you could be putting your little one’s vision at risk., which could affect their vision the rest of your life. Here’s what you need to know.
Parents Beware, Listen up!
There is a flood of fake glasses and other solar viewers have been hitting the market, and doctors are warning buyers to check carefully, very carefully before they buy. Some of them come with fake logos of reputable brands, or even fake safety labels which make it very hard to know what you purchased.
If you were as excited about the eclipse as we were and bought your glasses on Amazon, check your email. KGW.com reports the retailer has issued a widespread recall and is issuing full refunds on a variety of glasses, “out of an abundance of caution.” The company emailed buyers of glasses that may not comply with industry standards, so if you did not receive an email, your product is likely still safe to use, but if you want to double check, you can contact Amazon customer service.
What Your Solar Eclipse Glasses Should Do
When you use the right solar glasses, your view should be completely dark, almost like you’re wearing a blindfold, unless you’re looking right at the sun. You shouldn’t be able to see more run-of-the-mill brightness like you do when you wear normal sunglasses. That’s because solar eclipse glasses are around 100,000 times darker than typical sunglasses, so your normal pair won’t cut it.
When you look at the sun in eclipse glasses, it should be comfortable to look at, like you’re looking at the full moon. If it’s uncomfortable, not in focus, or hazy-looking, it’s not safe and you should immediately return your product. And if it’s scratched, torn, or damaged, throw it away. You should try your child’s glasses for these checks before you let them play with them or use on the 21st.
What Can Happen If You Aren’t Protected
Wow, okay, here is where it gets very scary. If you don’t use the approved glasses or don’t use glasses at all, you could put your child’s eyes at severe risk. Consider it equivalent to using a magnifying glass to try and burn leaves on a sunny day. Your retinas magnify light from the sun in a similar way. The sun is the most powerful source of energy in the solar system. It’s the most energetic object for light-years in all directions (it’s literally a huge fusion reactor). The energy it expels is so intense it can actually burn holes in your vision. And it’s particularly dangerous because of the anatomy of our eyes, Joel Schuman, chair of ophthalmology at NYU Langone Health, explains. When light enters our eyes, the lens focuses light onto the retina, located in the back of the eye. We see thanks to the retina’s chemical sensors picking up on the presence of light and transmitting information to the brain. The retina can handle indirect sunlight just fine. But think of what happens when you hold a magnifying glass up to the sun. It focuses light intensely enough to start a fire. Something similar happens with the lens in your eye when it’s focused directly on the sun.
It doesn’t heal because the retina is nerve tissue, Schuman explains, which doesn’t readily regenerate. Think of it like a spinal cord tear: permanent. And because the light from the sun hits the center of the retina, this burn occludes the sharpest region of central vision. “Oh, 20 seconds probably, that’s all it took,” Louis Tomososki, an Oregon man who was partially blinded during a total solar eclipse in 1963, told a local NBC affiliate. “Looking at someone and being able see their face — but not their nose” is how he described it to NBC. In less severe cases, Schuman says, there may just be swelling in the retina. This can be treated with steroids or other anti-inflammatory drugs. So be sure, if you think your eyes have been damaged, to see a doctor for treatment! Normally we don’t look at the sun because it’s uncomfortable. But an eclipse is an opportunity to appreciate our place in the universe. In 1999, a solar eclipse passed over the United Kingdom. Just one hospital alone in Leicester had 45 patients complaining of eye trouble, the journal Lancet reported. Twenty of the cases involved burns or inflammation to the retina.
How to Know If Your Child’s Glasses Are Safe and Legitimate
According to the American Astronomical Society, it used to be sufficient to look for a label that had the international safety standard code of 12312-2. But now, some companies are printing that number on fake products, even if they don’t block enough of the sun’s rays. And some sellers are even putting fake safety test results on their websites. Instead, before you buy, make sure your product is on the AAS list for reputable vendors. “If we don’t list a supplier, that doesn’t mean their products are unsafe.
How to Enjoy Sungazing Safely with Your Kids
There’s only one time you can look at the eclipse without glasses, and that’s during the period of “totality,” when the moon completely blocks the sun and the stars come out in the middle of the day. This will only occur in a 70-mile-wide path across the country, and it’ll last slightly less than three minutes. So for most of the time, and in most of the country, you definitely need glasses. And if you are in the totality zone, you must put your glasses back on immediately after you see the slightest glint of sunlight post-totality.