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Beware of counterfeit solar eclipse glasses

Xavier Smith • Jul 28, 2017 at 1:34 PM

NASA officials warned people against companies that seek to profit from counterfeit solar eclipse glasses as sales begin to rise before next month’s solar total eclipse.

Wilson County will be the center of the national craze Aug. 21 as many parts of the county fall within a few seconds of the maximum amount of totality, or darkness during the solar eclipse. Totality is expected to start around 1:28 p.m.

The rare total solar eclipse – first in Tennessee since 1869 – has created a rush to find solar eclipse glasses designed to protect viewer’s eyes during the event.

NASA ambassador Theo Wellington addressed the solar eclipse with the Wilson County Commission earlier this year and said just because viewers can look at the sun during the solar eclipse and not experience any physical pain, doesn’t mean damage won’t happen.

Wellington told the story of a teenager in India who rejected instructions and chose to stare at the eclipse.

“The doctor told him he had a cute little crescent-shaped scar on the back of his retina. Your retina does not have any pain receptors. You don’t know when you’re doing it damage. That will be the subject of many safety talks,” she said.

In response to the call for safety, many went to several outlets, including Walmart and Amazon, to find suitable solar eclipse glasses, which NASA said isn’t as easy at it appears.

NASA outlined four guidelines for any solar eclipse glasses. They must:

• have certification information with a designated ISO 12312-2 international standard.

• have the manufacturer’s name and address printed somewhere on the product.

• not to be used if they are older than three years or have scratched or wrinkled lenses.

• not made using homemade filters or be substituted for with ordinary sunglasses – not even very dark ones – because they are not safe for looking directly at the sun.

NASA and the American Astronomical Society verified five manufacturers making solar eclipse glasses that meet all standards – American Paper Optics, Baader Planetarium – AstroSolar Silver and Gold film only, Rainbow Symphony, Thousand Oaks Optical and TSE 17.

For more information, visit eclipse2017.nasa.gov/safety. 

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