Some Amazon customers were recently refunded after buying solar eclipse glasses that were reportedly not certified.
Those in the United States will be able to see a total solar eclipse for the first time in years on Monday, August 21. The event is causing many to order protective solar eclipse glasses so they can see it properly. However, some vendors on Amazon have reportedly been peddling counterfeit or unsafe versions of these spectacles and the tech giant has taken notice, according to The Verge.
These glasses need to be certified for safely viewing the sun or could cause serious eye damage. In order to look at the sun during the eclipse without causing any damage to your eyes, you need solar filter glasses that meet the standards of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Glasses that make the grade should block nearly all of the sun’s light, where typical sunglasses only block about half of it. Solar filter glasses also block light we can’t see, such as ultraviolet rays and infrared light.
“Some of the places they’re selling from are reputable manufacturers who we recognize and have had their glasses certified — and others are suspect,” Rick Fienberg, a spokesperson for the American Astronomical Society (AAS), a non-profit that teamed up with NASA to verify certified solar filter glasses, told The Verge. “We do have some confirmed reports of glasses being sold on Amazon by various vendors that are not genuine and that are not made from well-known manufacturers with documented proof of their identification.”
Solar filter glasses are usually produced with black polymer or a polyester film with a metal coating, neither of which are easy to procure, according to The Verge.
Currently, NASA and AAS say there are five manufacturers that meet the proper requirements:
If you’re looking for a pair of your own, make sure you select a pair with AstroSolar Silver/Gold film. It’s also important to ensure that the name and address of the manufacturer are printed on the glasses. The pair should also have a label confirming that it meets the ISO 12312-2 international standard.
NASA and AAS aren’t testing glasses themselves, they are simply verifying that the businesses who made the filters have ensured that the glasses are ISO certified and have tested the products at an accredited lab. Therefore, it’s suggested that shoppers buy these specialized glasses directly from one of the manufacturers listed above.
Feinberg says to be cautious of unknown businesses, even if they say their products are ISO certified. There are also counterfeit glasses out there, so keep that in mind as well. And while Amazon seems to be policing this and removing pages of suspect glasses, Fienberg suggests avoiding the shopping site altogether, saying, “Amazon is not an expert in astronomy or solar eclipses.”
And if you have purchased glasses you believe are suspect, contact Amazon. Pages for products like “MASCOTKING Solar Eclipse Glasses 2017 – CE and ISO Certified Safe Shades for Direct Sun Viewing — Eye Protection” and others have been taken down; and customers who purchased the glasses are getting refunds without having to return the item.
Amazon sent a statement to Oregon broadcaster KGW, explaining that the decision was made out of “an abundance of caution.”