How to spot dangerous fake solar eclipse glasses being sold in the US that could cause ‘permanent blindness’

US News

solar eclipse

Counterfeit solar eclipse glasses made in China that could leave users with “temporarily impaired vision” or “permanent blindness” are being sold in the US, officials cautioned.

The American Astronomical Society recently said that they had evidence that the dangerous fakes had infiltrated the market, which could spell disaster for some of the tens of millions of people expecting to travel to the solar eclipse’s zone of totality, and many millions more who will sneak a peak of the partial event outside the zone.

The suspect frames are impersonating legitimate frames made by the company County Qiwei Craft Co., and can be quickly spotted as fakes because they are no darker than regular sunglasses, the AAS warned.

As fake solar glasses infiltrate the market, national retailers and other
organizations will be handing out pairs of the real deal while supplies last. TIM SHORTT/ FLORIDA TODAY / USA TODAY NETWORK

Real solar glasses should be “at least 1,000 times darker than even the darkest regular sunglasses,” advised Rick Fienberg, Project Manager of the AAS Solar Eclipse Task Force.

Legit glasses should also have an International Organization for Standardization (ISO) certification on the frame, although that could also be faked, officials warned.

Real glasses should not allow the user to see anything on a sunny day except “perhaps the Sun’s reflection off a shiny surface or a puddle, which again should appear very faint.”

If the glasses pass that test, users should look at the Sun for about a second and take notice whether its face appears “comfortably bright” in a white, bluish white, yellow, or orange shade, depending on the filter used.

Without an obvious giveaway, solar glasses would need to be lab tested to verify their authenticity, officials said, while providing a list of legitimate vendors.

Real glasses should not allow the user to see anything on a sunny day except “perhaps the Sun’s reflection off a shiny surface or a puddle, which again should appear very faint.” Sarah Kloepping/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin / USA TODAY NETWORK

Fienberg became aware of the problem after “a guy who had bought thousands of eclipse glasses from a distributor who had been on our list at one point” contacted the agency to alert them he’d been ripped off, according to Scientific American.

The AAS did not have a confident estimate of the scope of the problem and noted that some counterfeit glasses had proven to be effective after testing.

“Safe solar viewers block all but a minuscule fraction of the Sun’s ultraviolet (UV), visible, and infrared (IR) light. Overexposure to sunlight in these parts of the spectrum can cause severe eye injury, ranging from temporarily impaired vision to permanent blindness,” the agency said in a statement.

New York State is offering free solar eclipse glasses at city libraries and along transit routes. I LOVE NY

 New York Attorney General Letitia James also weighed in on the issue in a Wednesday press release.

“There are serious risks associated with not using proper eyewear when looking directly at an eclipse, which is why everyone should follow guidance to ensure their solar eclipse glasses are legitimate and safe to use,” the state’s top prosecutor said.

A spokesperson from James’ office told The Post that it had not yet received any complaints of fake glasses, but was “on the look out” for any offenders.

New Yorkers can avoid getting duped by picking up a free pair of glasses at any New York City library, at Moynihan Train Station or at rest stops along the Thruway, which connects to the zone of totality passing through western and far upstate New York on Monday afternoon.

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