So there's a once-in-a-lifetime total solar eclipse coming up, and the word on the street is that it could seriously mess with your eyes if you're not careful.

Most folks are planning to rock those special eclipse glasses to keep their peepers safe. Roger Sarkis, owner of Eclipse Glasses USA in Provo, UT has noticed some folks are a bit confused about when it's okay to take them off.

For those wondering about the whole deal with taking off your eclipse glasses during a total eclipse, here's the scoop. There's this magical moment during a total eclipse called "totality." That's when the moon completely covers the sun, turning day into a weird sort of night for a brief period. During this time, and only this time, it's actually safe to take off your glasses and gaze at the stunning sight. You'll know it's safe because the sky goes dark, the temperature drops, and you can see the sun's corona, which is like a glowing ring around the moon. But this window of opportunity is super short, and as soon as the sun starts peeking out again, those glasses need to go right back on to protect your eyes from the sun's rays. Just make sure you're watching the phases closely, because before and after totality, you're back in danger zone and need those glasses on.

Roger puts it simply: without the right glasses, namely those that are ISO certified, you're just gonna see a super bright sun that could blind you. ISO certification means the glasses have passed a bunch of tests to prove they can really protect your eyes from the sun's harmful rays. This certification is like a stamp of approval, ensuring that the glasses will block out the right amount of sunlight, so you can watch the eclipse without frying your eyes. It's a big deal because looking at the sun with something that's not up to par can lead to serious eye damage. So, when you're shopping for those eclipse glasses, make sure to look for the ISO certification mark. It's your best bet for keeping your vision safe while you enjoy the show.

Dr. Jeff Pettey from the Moran Eye Center has seen what looking at an eclipse without proper gear can do. It's like a solar burn for your eyes. The front of your eye works like a magnifying glass, focusing the sun's rays onto a tiny spot that's crucial for seeing clearly. Mess that spot up, and you could end up with a permanent blotch in your vision.

Another heads-up: watch out for fake glasses, especially the ones you find online for dirt cheap. Roger's been testing some that claimed to be legit but turned out to be duds.

iso certified eclipse glasses

And get this, those glasses you've been holding onto since the 2017 eclipse? They might not be your best bet. Turns out, they have an expiration date – who knew, right? After three years, they might not protect your eyes as well as they should, assuming they haven't already turned into dust.

Roger's advice? Don't risk it by using old glasses. The only way to know if they still work is by looking directly at the sun, and trust me, that's not a test you want to take.

Dr. Pettey warns that if you do damage your eye, there's no coming back from it. It's like getting a scar, but on your eye, and there's no fixing that.

So, the bottom line? Be smart, protect your eyes, and don't take chances with the sun.

February 15, 2024 — Roger Sarkis

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