Voice of the Consumer: Enjoy the eclipse, but do it safely with approved eyewear

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In this Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017 photo, Colton Hammer tries out his new eclipse glasses he just bought from the Clark Planetarium in Salt Lake City in preparation for the eclipse. (Scott G Winterton/The Deseret News via AP)

The solar eclipse is on the horizon and you will need special glasses to protect your eyes if you plan on watching it. The problem is, there’s some fake ones out on the market that could damage your eyesight. 11 News turned to a local expert to find out what you need to know to safely watch the eclipse.

“You need to have some glasses that make it safe to view the sun at the time that the eclipse is occurring,” said optometrist Dr. Ted Archdale. “The concern is the ultraviolet radiation that comes from it. Normally, if we look at the sun it’s uncomfortable for us to do it, so we don’t typically do that and it can damage the back of your eyes.

“But during an eclipse, it’s not as bright. So then people unfortunately look at it a little longer and can end up having damage occur to the retinas in the back of their eyes.”

On Monday the total eclipse will be visible across the United States. Here in southern Colorado, we will be able to see a partial eclipse. The best viewing time in Colorado Springs will be around 11:45 a.m. We have been reporting on how dangerous it can be to look at the eclipse without protective eye gear. You may have seen a story this week on KKTV 11 News about a man who watched a partial solar eclipse in 1972. He was 15 years-old at the time and didn’t wear glasses.

“I probably stared at it about 30 seconds to a minute, on and off, both eyes,” said Fred Karst. “Both eyes, eclipse burns. So basically, what is that? It’s like in flash photography, you see that little swirly thing after the flash. I see it all the time. It never goes away. A little worse in the right side than the left side, but it’s always there. And that’s really from staring at the sun.”

The problem is some people are selling fake glasses. There’s one big thing you need to look for on your pair of shades: “You want to make sure that they are ISO approved, which is the organization that puts standards together,” said Dr. Archdale. “It just basically filters out all the bad rays. You can view the eclipse without any concern, at that point.”

More specifically, NASA said if your glasses are compliant with the “ISO 12312-2” safety standard, then you can watch the eclipse as long as you want. If you are still looking for pair of glasses, you can head to our website www.kktv.com and click on the red ‘Find It’ tab. We have a link on our website that will take you to a full list of reputable vendors to make sure your glasses are ISO-compliant. You can also find out when the best viewing time is for your location.

“Enjoying it, but enjoying it safely is the important part,” said Dr. Archdale.

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