This article could save your sight. If you bought solar eclipse glasses recently from Amazon, they could be fake and unsafe, even if they have the ISO certification printed on the glasses. You should throw them away.
It is very dangerous out there for buyers of solar eclipse glasses, as in dangerous for their eyes. The American Astronomical Society says “the marketplace is being flooded by counterfeit eclipse glasses that are labeled as if they’re ISO-compliant when in fact they are not.” Quartz is reporting “Solar-eclipse fever means counterfeit glasses are flooding Amazon’s market”. That means it is no longer safe to order solar eclipse glasses from Amazon or other third party web sites. You have no way of knowing if the glasses are safe or not. So what should you do?
If you bought solar eclipse glasses at Amazon recently they might be counterfeit and you could ruin your eyesight using them to watch the eclipse. For the sake of your vision you should throw them away and spend $10 to get a pair of eclipse glasses that you know are safe.
If you bought solar eclipse glasses, filters, or binoculars from the links in my prior articles, you are safe. I carefully selected items that were supplied by vendors on the recommended list. Those sources have now sold out of their stock, some of them as recently as yesterday. Some of them will have new stock in a month or two which will be too late for the eclipse.
There are also dangers with some photographic filters that are not intended for visual use and some of them may not come with a warning.
I recommended Lee Solar Filters but for photographic use only. Lee Solar Filters are “high density” filters which are intended only for photographic use with a camera in Live View mode. As I point out in my articles you should NOT use Lee Solar Filters (or other high density filters) to view the sun directly. With a Lee Solar Filter on your camera lens you should not look through the camera’s viewfinder. You could blind yourself. That is the reason the Lee Solar Filter (and other brands of high density filters) are for Live View mode only. Lee Solar filters come with a warning against using them visually.
With the recent flood of cheap high density filters on the market, high density filters may not come with a warning. If you did not buy your photographic filter directly from Thousand Oaks Optical (or one of the safe links I provided), you should assume your filter is for photographic use only, and not visual use for viewing the sun directly. For more information read Do NOT Look at the Eclipse Through a High Density Solar Eclipse Filter! You Could Go Blind!
If you bought a “white light” solar filter using one of my links directly to Thousand Oaks Optical you can use it to safely look at the sun. White light filters from Thousand Oaks Optical are both photographically and visually safe. More about that in prior articles in this series.
If you just randomly picked solar eclipse glasses or viewers or other eclipse items at Amazon, you should cut them up (so no one else can use them) and throw them away rather than gamble on damaging your vision. They could be counterfeits made to look exactly like the items that are safe.
Despite some terrible wrong and dangerous advice on the internet, you can’t tell if solar eclipse glasses are safe by looking at them. A counterfeit pair can look exactly like a safe pair. If you look at the sun through a safe pair and a counterfeit pair, the sun will look the same. As the American Astronomical Society warns,
“Unfortunately, you can’t check whether a filter meets the ISO standard yourself — doing so requires a specialized and expensive piece of laboratory equipment called a spectrophotometer that shines intense UV, visible, and IR light through the filter and measures how much gets through at each wavelength. Solar filter manufacturers send their products to specialized labs that are accredited to perform the tests necessary to verify compliance with the ISO 12312-2 safety specifications. Once they have the paperwork that documents their products as ISO-compliant, they can legitimately use the ISO logo on their products and packaging.
“Even more unfortunately, unscrupulous vendors can grab the ISO logo off the internet and put it on their products and packaging even if their eclipse glasses or viewers haven’t been properly tested. This means that just seeing the ISO logo or a label claiming ISO 12312-2 certification isn’t good enough. You need to know that the product comes from a reputable manufacturer or one of their authorized dealers.”
Due to the flood of counterfeit glasses entering the market, the American Astronomical Society (AAS) has changed their advice, and so have I. They used to tell you to look for the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard. With the recent advent of fakes in the marketplace, their old advice will no longer keep your eyes safe. So I am giving the same advice as the new advice from the AAS.
What do you do if you need to order eclipse glasses at this late date (or replace potentially fake glasses)? You must order directly from one of the safe vendors. Do not go through Amazon or any other intermediate company. It is just too risky and your eyes aren’t worth that risk. There are just too many counterfeits flooding into the markets. Neither Amazon or any other intermediate company can be sure if they are getting something that is safe or something that isn’t. They don’t have a team of physicists in a high tech lab. You must order directly from the safe vendors to be sure you have eclipse glasses that are safe.
One of them is David Chandler. I picked this company because I have been using their products for decades. I called the head of the company today (August 3) and he said they have some eclipse glasses in stock. David Chandler Company is also on the approved list of safe vendors. He doesn’t have a huge supply so order now!
The rest of the safe vendors are listed in this article. Many of them are already out of stock an d the few that do have glasses in stock may run out soon. Order now. Don’t wait.
The awful thing about this is people will unwittingly buy solar filters on Amazon and give them to their children to use on eclipse day, having no clue the odds are high that the filters are fake and unsafe. Feel free to share the link to this article and get the word out.
I began writing this article August 3, 2017 and posted it after midnight August 4 to get the word out there as quickly as possible. I added additional information and links to this article the morning of August 4. This article isn’t quite as well organized as I would ordinarily prefer, but it is more important to get the information out there as quickly as possible.
The Great American Eclipse Series
How to Tell If Your Eclipse Glasses or Handheld Solar Viewers Are Safe – the American Astronomical Society
Reputable Vendors of Solar Filters – the American Astronomical Society