Just one week before the astronomical total solar eclipse, Amazon released a nationwide recall on sun filters that were not properly approved by NASA or the American Astronomical Society. The shock is not only due to the fact that counterfeit glasses were being sold on Amazon, but that products from legitimate dealers were pulled as well.
On Monday, August 21st, 2017, a total solar eclipse will be visible in the United States’ skies for the first time since June, 1918. While the eclipse will be viewed in its entirety in a select band of states, the seventy-mile “path of totality”, a partial view can still be seen from other states’ sky. The path moves eastward, starting in Oregon and ending in South Carolina.
Considering the event’s rarity, it has become a form of national celebration across the country as we lose our sun for roughly less than three minutes. Millions will be planning elaborate camping vacations as eclipse chasers migrate to the path. Hotels near national parks have raised prices due to the desire for vacancy. BBB advises consumers to be cautious using sites like Craigslist and AirBnB for the solar event. Don’t use outside payment options that aren’t suggested by the platform’s options. It is always best to opt for credit card payments considering they are the best to protect you from fraudulent charges. Read more on BBB's tips on solar eclipse events and counterfeit glasses.
Western national parks, including Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, are expecting a large draw for their vantage points. Due to the anticipated number, heavy traffic and limited parking are expected.
Local Optometrist, Dr. Joseph Pirman, of Novus Clinic Total Eye Care in Tallmadge expresses great concern over the upcoming event with the risk of retinal damage and vision loss.
The excitement surrounding the eclipse and the sheer number of people who will view it has me nervous that some of the observers will not use the necessary precautions in protecting their eyes from solar radiation. The retinopathy associated with this exposure can result in temporary or even permanent vision loss. Often, people who experience these “burns” have no discomfort as the retina has no pain receptors. They only become aware as areas of vision loss become realized. The couple of minutes during total eclipse can safely be viewed without protective eyewear. But the partial eclipse seen prior to and following the total eclipse in the path of totality and partial eclipse seen by everyone else outside the path of totality requires precaution in viewing. Due to recent issues surfacing about counterfeit protective filter glasses, increasing cost and availability of legitimate filters, another option to view the eclipse safely is to view it indirectly. Create a pinhole in a piece of cardboard and allow the light from the eclipse to pass through the pinhole and focus on a second piece of cardboard on which you can see the stages of the eclipse.
Many potential eclipse viewers have turned to looking online for these types of glasses, including the massive retailer Amazon. On August 14th, Amazon sent out a letter to certain consumers, describing the reason for concern regarding the purchased product. While they supplied a refund, they did not guarantee an alternative replacement. Amazon had sent out a message of caution, not guarantee, that the purchase was unsafe for viewing the eclipse. Due to this, many companies who were approved by the AAS or NASA, were distraught that their impressive monthly sales were being reimbursed. With the recent recall, eclipse glasses prices have skyrocketed. If you are still considering buying a pair of solar lenses, the AAS suggests this list of suggested reputable sellers.
In response to the safety discord, Amazon has issued new safety requirements for selling these particular type of glasses. These requirements can be found here.
BBB and Novus Clinic Total Eye Care strongly encourage consumers to protect their eyes on August 21, 2017.
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