CLEMSON – Counterfeit solar shades that reportedly have been sold on Amazon and in other venues could be unsafe and should not be worn during Monday’s total solar eclipse.

However, all 50,000 pairs of solar glasses that will be distributed at Clemson University’s “Eclipse Over Clemson” mega-viewing event are certified to meet the safety standards of the International Standards Organization.

woman wearing solar glasses looks at sun

Only solar glasses printed with “ISO 12312-2” and a certified “CE” on their packaging are safe for viewing eclipses.
Image Credit: 123RF

Here are some tips to ensure that the solar glasses you plan to wear on eclipse day are also safe:

Make sure that your glasses have been manufactured by a vendor deemed reputable by the American Astronomical Society. These glasses will bear the international safety standard number “ISO 12312-2,” as well as a certified “CE” printed on them. They are made to filter out 99 percent of visible light, as well as harmful infrared and ultraviolet rays from the sun. When wearing ISO-certified glasses, no ordinary daylight should shine through.

The AAS states that only “the sun itself or something comparably bright, such as the sun reflected in a mirror, a sun-glint off shiny metal, the hot filament of an unfrosted incandescent light bulb, a bright halogen light bulb, a bright-white LED bulb (including the flashlight on your smartphone), a bare compact fluorescent (CFL) bulb or an arc-welding torch” should be visible through these solar shades.

The next step is to ensure that your glasses – even if ISO-certified – are free of scratches, tears or punctures. Even the smallest amount of light that might pass through the lenses could damage your eyesight when staring directly at the sun. Visitors at “Eclipse Over Clemson” are encouraged to try on their solar glasses as they receive them. If the glasses appear to be damaged or if you can see any ordinary daylight through them, the organizers will provide you with a new pair.

image of someone's blue eye

Looking at the eclipse during its partial phases without solar glasses can damage your eyesight.
Image Credit: 123RF

Children also should be watched carefully. Solar glasses can be difficult for children to wear, because they are made for larger faces. Parents should make certain that their children are using the glasses as safely as possible. 

Remember that solar glasses and filters are necessary whenever any amount of sunlight is visible. In Clemson, the total solar eclipse will begin at 1:07 p.m. and end at 4:02 p.m. During this time, your solar glasses should be worn whenever staring directly at the sun. However, there is one vital exception. During totality, which begins at 2:37 p.m and lasts for, coincidentally, 2 minutes and 37 seconds, you will be able to remove the glasses and stare directly at the moon-covered sun with the naked eye. But when totality ends, you must then wear the solar glasses again whenever staring directly at the sun to avoid damaging your eyes.

At “Eclipse Over Clemson,” student volunteers will be monitoring the crowd for any improper usage of solar glasses. Please be cooperative, with the understanding that our volunteers will be there to help, not hinder.