RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – If you’re one of the tens of millions of people who plan to keep an eye the sky August 21 to watch the Great American Eclipse – you have to do it safely.
That means wearing the right specialty glasses to protect your eyes.
“You don’t want to look at the eclipse without proper spectacles because you could damage your eyes permanently,” says Allison Knox of Kelly Eye Center of Raleigh.
The American Astronomical Society says there are scores of reports of fake eclipse glasses flooding the market because scammers are casting a shadow over the whole event by unscrupulously selling sun watching glasses that are dangerous to your eyes.
When the sun is totally obscured, you can look at the eclipse with the naked eye but in the hours before and after the full eclipse, you need glasses.
In this area, we will not see a total eclipse.
The moon will only cover 90 percent of the sun in the Triangle, letting enough of the sun’s rays through to ruin your eyes without proper protection.
“Think about having a sunburn on the front of your eye. It can also damage the retina which is the back part of the eye,” says Knox. “Once you’ve damaged your retina, it’s permanent.”
The issue of fake glasses has become such a concern that North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein has put out a warning saying you should only use glasses with the code: ISO 12312-2.
That means they’ve been manufactured to the international safety standard that will protect your eyes.
Regular sunglasses won’t protect your eyes if you look at the eclipse.
“Even though sunglasses have an ultraviolet light filter on them, they’re still not going to protect your eyes from the damaging rays of the sun,” says Knox.
And using your camera to watch the eclipse is no better for your eyes.
“If you’re doing that with a camera, you’re still focusing light rays on a single point in your burning a hole in your retina,” she says.
For many of us this is a once in a lifetime experience that needs to be viewed safely.
“I’m excited about it,” said Kathy Casner of Raleigh.
She says she’s never seen an eclipse before and can’t wait to witness it in person.
To make sure you’re protected, here is a list of approved manufacturers of eclipse glasses.
List of reputable makers of eclipse glasses that meet ISO Safety standards