Optometrist: Make sure glasses are legit

Published 1:57 am Saturday, August 19, 2017

If you haven’t gotten safety glasses with which to view Monday’s solar eclipse, there’s a good chance you can’t find any now.

But even if you have glasses, it’s very important to make sure they are legit, local optometrist Dr. James Barton said.

“You’ve got to have glasses that are approved for eclipse viewing specifically,” Barton said. “That means they are stamped with the ISO standard 12312-12.”

But Barton said NASA is recommending that Americans use only glasses made in the United States.

“American Paper Optics is considered the top vendor,” he said. “There have been some counterfeit glasses from China and other places. We don’t think they will offer adequate eye protection for viewing the eclipse.”

Amazon offered a refund on some of the glasses they sold, he said. “The demand caught a lot of us off guard,” he said. “We didn’t expect this demand or excitement.”

Barton said welders’ goggles with a rating of 14 or higher could also be used to view the eclipse.

“But those are really difficult to find,” he said.

Barton explained the danger this way in a social media post.

“Normally, humans can’t look at the sun for any extended period of time because it’s too bright and we want to close our eyes, thus preventing the UV from causing damage,” he said. “We will not have that protection during an eclipse because the sun will not be as bright. So, you can stare right at the sun without your eyes ‘hurting’ and your pupils will actually dilate to allow more light in. Which will cause more UV to get into the eye and cause damage.”

Even with the glasses there are still concerns, Barton said.

“One of the biggest concerns we have as an industry is people playing loose,” he said. “There is a concern that the glasses might not fit kids properly, which could be a challenge. It is probably better to watch it on television than to watch it live. Common sense still rules the day.”

Barton said he has set aside ISO-rated glasses for his employees.

“We’re going to take a three minute break and go watch it,” he said. “But my wife, Monica, will probably watch it on TV. She’s not as much of a risk taker as I am.”

Barton, who also is a member of the Covington County School board, said at Straughn High School, students won’t change classes during the eclipse on Monday, just as a precaution.

“We all remember what it was like in school,” he said. “The teacher tells you not to do something, you’re going to do it anytime. If you just glance at it for six to 10 seconds, you could have some eye injury.”

What is a solar eclipse? As seen from the Earth, a solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the sun and earth, and the moon fully or partially blocks the sun.
In Andalusia, we will only be able to view a partial eclipse.
According to the U.S. Naval Observatory, the moon will obscure 85.8 percent of the sun in Andalusia beginning at about 1:03 p.m. The eclipse will last two hours and 58 minutes, with the maximum eclipse expected at 2:35 p.m.