The Looming Threat of Fake Solar Eclipse Glasses

As the April 8 Total Solar Eclipse nears, Eclipse enthusiasm is hitting a fever pitch. But buyers beware – fake Solar Eclipse glasses are flooding the market, putting your eyes at risk. Don’t chance your eyesight. With massive crowds expected and the possibility of a massive Solar Eclipse film shortage, you need to secure safe Solar filters now.

Understanding Solar Eclipse Eye Safety

While most DFW will experience the 70-mile-wide path of Totality, the same Totality cities will also experience a partial Eclipse. As the Moon moves toward the Sun (before Totality) and as the Moon moves away from the Sun (after Totality), DFW will experience a partial Solar Eclipse.  

During a Solar Eclipse, the Moon blocks only part of the Sun’s surface and dangerous ultraviolet and infrared rays still reach Earth.

Because the Sun is dangerously bright, humans should never look directly at it. Special Solar filters (a.k.a. Eclipse glasses) that meet the requirements of the ISO 12312-2 standard for filters for direct Solar viewing must be used. Viewing the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed Sun without proper protection can lead to permanent eye damage or blindness.

Why You Need Eye Protection

According to Prevent Blindness, “Exposing your eyes to the Sun without proper eye protection during a Solar Eclipse can cause “Eclipse blindness” or retinal burns, also known as Solar retinopathy. This exposure to the light can cause damage or even destroy cells in the retina (the back of the eye) that transmit what you see to the brain. This damage can be temporary or permanent and occurs with no pain. It can take a few hours to a few days after viewing the Solar Eclipse to realize the damage that has occurred.”

Why You Can’t Just Wear Sunglasses During An Eclipse? 

Simply put, Sunglasses are not strong enough to look directly at the Sun. AXIOS states in its Solar Eclipse reminder: Don’t stare straight at the Sun article, “Safe Solar viewers are “thousands of times darker” and should comply with the ISO 12312-2 international standard, per the Astronomical Society.”

Legit Protective Standards

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) adopted ISO 12312-2 for products intended to view the everyday Sun directly. ISO 12312-2 is an international standard specifying safety requirements and test methods for Solar filters and viewers designed to observe the Sun directly. 

According to the American Astronomical Society (AAS), “ISO standards are not laws, though governments sometimes base laws on ISO standards. This means it is not necessarily illegal for a product to fail to meet the requirements of an ISO standard. But it may be inadvisable to buy or use such a product, as failure to meet the requirements of an applicable standard likely means the product is not genuinely safe, not well suited to its purpose, or both.”

Some key points about ISO 12312-2:

  • First published in 2005, ISO 12312-2 was updated in 2015 to strengthen safety criteria. Products must meet the 2015 version to be compliant.
  • It establishes transmission, radiation requirements and labeling specifications for Solar viewing devices to be deemed safe.
  • Testing methods are included to evaluate factors like UV/IR light blocking, impact resistance, flammability, transmittance and quality of materials/construction.
  • By regulating Solar filters to this comprehensive safety standard, the risk of eye injuries from Solar radiation, like Eclipse blindness or retinal burns, is significantly mitigated.
  • Reputable manufacturers submit their Solar viewing products for thorough ISO lab testing to certify compliance. This certification is essential for consumer safety when directly observing the Sun.

ISO 12312-2 is a rigorous, internationally recognized safety standard exclusively governing Solar filters and viewers to protect eyes from Sun exposure damage during Solar Eclipse viewing and astronomy.

What Are ISO -12312-2 Compliant Solar Eclipse Glasses?

Authentic Eclipse glasses feature lenses compliant with ISO 12312-2, the global benchmark for safe Solar observation. Often resembling cardboard 3D glasses, they sport significantly darker lenses than typical Sunglasses to filter out 99.99% of the Sun’s harmful rays. These glasses are marked with labels confirming their adherence to ISO standards, as verified by the American Astronomical Society (AAS). Look for the ISO 12312-2 designation prominently displayed on the frames.

Please note that Eclipse glasses are NOT certified by ISO. ISO sets the standard. An independent, third-party certified lab must test them to claim Solar Eclipse glasses are ISO compliant.  

The Problem With ISO 12312-2

Some manufacturers have learned they can put an “ISO-compliant,” ISO-approved” or “ISO Standard” label on almost anything – including Solar Eclipse glasses. 

In 2017, Amazon had to issue thousands of refunds to customers who purchased counterfeit Eclipse glasses just before the April 21, 2017, Total Solar Eclipse. 

Time Magazine reported in its August 14, 2017 story, Fake Solar Eclipse Glasses Are Being Sold Online. Here’s How to Avoid Scams, “Amazon did not say how many potentially fake glasses were bought or how many customers were affected. The company said it asked people selling Solar Eclipse glasses on its website to provide documentation that verifies the glasses were certified and real, “out of an abundance of caution.” Amazon then removed the listings from sellers who did not respond and notified people who bought the glasses from them last week.”

How to Spot Counterfeit Eclipse Glasses

With unsafe Eclipse glasses flooding markets globally, vigilantly vetting your Solar viewers is imperative. Don’t rely solely on printed ISO seals, which scammers readily fake. Here are physical and observable clues warning of risky counterfeits:

  • Check for defects like scrapes, tears, or holes – discard glasses immediately if found. Even new but faulty units endanger vision.
  • Loose filters detaching from frames indicate shoddy construction and possible light leakage.
  • Distorted or excessively bright views of indoor lighting demonstrate failed protective capacities.
  • Discolored or heavily tinted viewing likely signals inadequate filtration for safe Solar spectating. Expect a comfortable brightness resembling a full Moon.
  • The surest way to verify counterfeit Eclipse glasses is to go to the seller’s or manufacturer’s websites and look for independent testing results. These results should be easily found.

Another Way To Spot Fake Eclipse Glasses Is To Look For “NASA-approved

As demand surges for authentic Solar Eclipse glasses before April 8, 2024, numerous shady vendors falsely claim their products are “NASA-approved” despite the agency not endorsing any brands. This baseless assertion intends to inspire consumer confidence, but counterfeit glasses bearing bogus NASA logos jeopardize viewer safety.

While NASA provides invaluable Eclipse education, maps and safety tips, they explicitly state they do not evaluate, test or approve any manufacturers or brands of filters or viewers. No governmental agency oversees such product approvals. However, misrepresenting affiliation with NASA’s trusted name often tricks unassuming customers.

Instead, buyers are responsible for verifying that glasses and viewers meet the globally recognized ISO 12312-2 standard for Solar viewing and hail from reputable sellers vetted by astronomy experts like the American Astronomical Society. NASA guides people to these trustworthy Solar Eclipse resources dedicated to consumer protection.

So be cautious of simulated NASA badges and misleading approval claims used to peddle questionable Eclipse merchandise. NASA doesn’t assess Eclipse glasses, but vetted third parties do! With skullduggery afoot, procure your shades from reliable local sources like Total Eclipse DFW.

Don’t Rely on Amazon, Etsy, Temu 

Be careful using mega online stores like Amazon or Etsy. With so many sellers, quality and safety vary wildly there.

It’s hard for buyers to confirm if Eclipse glasses sold on these sites genuinely meet ISO safety standards. Some listings falsely claim “ISO-certified” labels. Just seeing that doesn’t guarantee proper eye protection.

Unfortunately, these massive marketplaces don’t thoroughly vet all suppliers. Amongst plenty of great options, hazardous fakes slip through gaps since centralized accountability is lacking. Don’t risk vision over a questionable deal.

Instead, check endorsed sellers cleared by astronomy groups like the American Astronomical Society for guaranteed certified Eclipse glasses. Local resellers like Total Eclipse DFW exclusively stock glasses that are ISO-compliant.

American Astronomical Society’s Suppliers of Safe Solar Viewers & Filters

The American Astronomical Society’s (AAS) Suppliers of Safe Solar Viewers & Filters is a vetted list of reputable manufacturers, dealers and vendors that sell Solar filters and viewers that comply with the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard. Total Eclipse DFW and its three manufacturers are all on the AAS Suppliers of Safe Solar Viewers & Filters list.

Some key things to know:

  • The AAS Solar Eclipse Task Force compiles the list based on verified testing documentation and evaluations of products to ensure eye safety for directly viewing the Sun.
  • The AAS has confirmed companies and products listed to meet stringent requirements on factors like light transmittance, UV/IR radiation blocking, durability etc.
  • The list helps consumers purchase authentic Solar viewing products from credible sources, avoiding dangerous counterfeits.
  • It includes manufacturers, authorized dealers, optics companies, and even retail chains selling ISO-compliant Eclipse glasses and viewers.

Eclipse watchers should only purchase glasses from manufacturers, dealers and vendors on the list. By sticking to recommended AAS suppliers, people can observe Solar Eclipses safely.

Total Eclipse DFW’s Strict Standards

As Dallas-Fort Worth’s regional hub for the April 8 Total Solar Eclipse, Total Eclipse DFW upholds paramount protections around certified eyewear. We exclusively promote and provide Solar filters, meeting rigorous ISO 12312-2 compliance vetting. You can see our three manufacturer’s ISO testing data here.

All three of Total Eclipse DFW’s suppliers are listed on the American Astronomical Society’s Suppliers of Safe Solar Viewers & Filters

Total Eclipse DFW desires everyone reveling on April 8th to celebrate safely. That’s why we spearhead regional efforts to combat illegitimate shades, educate buyers on spotting fakes, call out uncertified merchants and maintain gold-standard inventory the public can trust. Join us in experiencing wondrous Totality!

Prepare Safely For A Dazzling Totality in Dallas

As April 8th nears, Dallas-Fort Worth awaits an extraordinary sight – a Total Solar Eclipse! Many eager locals will don their ISO-certified glasses and look up and watch the Moon fully cover the midday Sun. With helpful guidance from Total Eclipse DFW on ideal viewing spots and eye safety, residents can soak up the dazzling celestial show sweeping over North Texas.

 Solar Eclipses have captivated people across ages. Now, it’s DFW’s turn to witness this rare alignment, continuing a tradition of curiosity about our cosmos.

Order your ISO-compliant glasses today!

Download Image: Eclipse Eye Safety Infographic (JPG, 135 kb)