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Here’s how to tell if your solar eclipse glasses are safe

solar eclipse glasses
solar eclipse glasses
A still from the CBC coverage of the 1979 solar eclipse in Manitoba.

A solar eclipse is a magnificent sight, but strict precautions must be taken to view this rare astronomical event.

Many solar eclipse glasses are on the market, but not all of them will properly protect a person’s eyes.

That’s why KGW in Portland set out to inform people what to look for. The multi-platform news organization had Dr. Lorne Yudcovitch, a professor of optometry at Pacific University, look at three different types of glasses to verify just how safe they are.

The eyewear should have an ISO or international standards organization number printed on them, said Yudcovitch. This is the number scientists worldwide agreed is strong enough for a lens to keep eyes safe during the viewing of an eclipse.

The first pair of glasses passed the test.

“This one does have the ISO logo, and says that it’s certified and there is a number on here that says ISO 12312 which is the certification for eclipse glasses,” explained Yudcovitch.

Another thing to look for is making sure the lenses are undamaged. Yudcovitch added defects to the glasses can damage one’s eyes. He also showed KGW the retinal scans of patients with damaged vision from looking at the sun.

“This person did stare at the sun and has damage to the rods and cones in the fovea. This may heal in some people or may be permanent in some people.”

Yudcovitch is commonly asked if it’s alright to quickly glance at the sun.

“Well the potential for permanent damage is fairly low. But even a brief second looking at the sun, can in some cases, depending on the individual, cause a permanent damage to the fovea, and the fovea is the very centre of the retina,” he said.

He added people have asked if a CD or DVD provides enough protection to look at the eclipse through, and KGW verified solar eclipse glasses can’t be replaced with anything else.

One pair of glasses Yudcovitch examined did not have an ISO number or website about the manufacturer, so he warns everyone to be extra wary about retina protection, especially with the upcoming and much-anticipated solar eclipse.

On August 21, the moon will pass between the sun and earth, which will have people of all ages gazing upwards, with the proper eyewear, of course.

In Toronto, it will be visible as a 70 per cent partial eclipse, though experiencing the total eclipse is possible by traveling south to the United States.

The path of totality stretches from Oregon to South Carolina. According to Space.com, during a total solar eclipse, “the disk of the moon blocks out the last sliver of light from the sun, and the sun’s outer atmosphere, the corona, becomes visible.”

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