How to make sure your solar eclipse viewing glasses will protect your eyes

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC)  —  Next Monday, millions of people across the country will put on funny looking glasses and look up into the sky to see our country’s first total solar eclipse in 38 years.

If you’re one of them, you need to make sure the glasses you’re wearing will truly protect your eyes.

“It only takes a few seconds viewing the sun directly before damage starts to occur in the retina. Within a minute you can cause irreversible damage that could lead to lifelong blindness,” explains Ophthalmologist Dr. Russell Van Gelder.

That’s why it’s so important to get glasses proven to shield your eyes from the sun’s damaging rays.

Glasses that have been tested to be safe will be marked ISO 12312-2.

The glasses should also be packaged in plastic with lenses that are scratch-free.

Finding them might be a challenge. Steve Webster and his wife have been running around Richmond trying to buy a couple pairs.

“We checked the science museum a couple of weeks ago. They said well we’re out, but we’ll get them back in. Then we found out they were at Lowes. We just left Lowes and then finally 7-Eleven. We said wow at least I can get coffee.”

Webster got his coffee but no glasses.

The hype over this celestial event is driving demand.

“A lot of things in astronomy you need a big telescope to see them or you have to stay up until 3 in the morning … Not so with this one. It’s right in the middle of the afternoon and you just have to be able to look up,” explains Justin Bartel, am immersive experience specialist at the Science Museum of Virginia.

The museum sold out of its last shipment of glasses in just 48 hours.

The American Astronomical Society recommends these reputable vendors of viewing glasses.

This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.

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