Special shades needed to watch solar eclipse, but keep an eye out for fakes

Special shades needed to watch solar eclipse, but keep an eye out for fakes »

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Millions of Americans will be staring up at the sky on August 21 to catch a glimpse of a rare solar eclipse.

Special eye-wear is needed to safely watch the celestial event, but according to NASA, a lot of fakes are being sold in stores and online.

The Natural History Museum in Providence got a thousand pairs of safety glasses for museum-goers who are hoping to witness the eclipse.

“Keeping our fingers crossed that the weather cooperates,” the museum’s director, Renee Gamba said. “We’ll be able to start seeing the partial solar eclipse happening.”

“It’s a chance for people to be part of history!” she added.

Gamba says interest in the eclipse, as well as the specialized eye-wear, is waxing as the big date draws near.

“A lot of people are asking where to get the glasses,” she said. “There are places online but one thing that you have to be sure is that they’re proper glasses.”

Wearing phony glasses or no glasses at all can permanently hurt one’s eyes, according to Dr. Vinh Tran at Koch Eye Associates.

“You see this little whitening area right here?” he asked. “It’s a sunburn in your eye.”

“Any direct line of sight toward the eclipse and the sun is going to be damaging to the eyes,” Tran explained further. “UV rays can damage any tissue on the body. Unlike the skin, which can somewhat repair itself, the eyes have a hard time doing that.”

Before purchasing special glasses for the eclipse, make sure they meet international safety standards. They’ll bear a certified ISO logo and the number 12312-2, and when you look through the glasses, regular light should not be visible.

Before use, be sure to check the lenses for any scratches and damage, which could make the glasses unsafe.