CHARLOTTE, N.C. - If you plan on looking up at the upcoming total solar eclipse, sunglasses won’t cut it; you’ll need special eclipse glasses.
But now The American Astronomical Society is warning that scammers are taking advantage of the total eclipse craze.
They say phony glasses are flooding the marketplace, alleging even websites like Amazon have fallen victim to fakes.
The consequences for picking the wrong pair could be devastating, causing solar retinopathy and blindness.
“Unfortunately, the damage to the nerves and the tissue which is the retina tends to be permanent,” said Dr. Omar Punjabi, a Charlotte board-certified ophthalmologist.
NBC Charlotte Chief meteorologist Brad Panovich says the fakes often look authentic.
“A lot of them are flooding the market right now because it's a way to make a quick buck, so you get a lot of imposters,” he said.
“If you look through them and you can actually see stuff, that means they're not legit. If you look through them and you can see the ground or see your hand in front of your face, then you pretty much know they’re fake.”
NASA officials say only these five manufacturers that sell certified, approved eclipse glasses:
• Baader Planetarium
• Rainbow Symphony
• Thousand Oaks Optical
• TSE 17
• American Paper optics.
“The longer you look at the sun the fake ones the more damage you're going to do to your eyes,” Panovich said.
Also make sure your glasses have the ISO number 12312-2 printed on them (although the fakes will sometimes go as far as to print this number).
The manufacturer name and address should also be printed on the glasses—be sure it’s one of the 5 NASA recommends.
“I know it's easy to get that from the convenience store pick or them up from the dollar store,” Panovich said. “But I would shy away from that, because these are your eyes we’re talking about. You don’t want to damage your eyes.”