Solar eclipse glasses: What to look for and where to get them

Plus, read expert advice on testing to make sure your glasses are safe.

April 5, 2024, 12:49 PM

The total eclipse happening on April 8 is, for many, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Make sure you're prepared to catch the celestial event with a safe, effective pair of eclipse glasses!

Why do you need special eclipse glasses?

Per the American Society of Retina Specialists, viewing the sun -- or even a laser -- without proper eye protection can cause direct damage to the retina leading to blurred vision, blind spots or distortion, and in some cases even permanent vision loss.

Some examples of unsafe filters that you should never use include regular sunglasses, camera lenses, binoculars, and telescopes. Without a special-purpose solar filter, none of these offer the protection you, plus you can damage expensive equipment this way.

You should also skip using the old pair you might have tucked in a junk drawer from past eclipses. Scratches and other damage affect efficacy, so using a fresh pair to view the April 8 eclipse is advised.

How to tell if your eclipse glasses are legit

While you can pick up eclipse glasses in any number of places right now, the American Astronomical Society (or AAS) recently pointed out that several options on the market are counterfeit and thus unsafe.

Rick Fienberg, the project manager of the AAS Solar Eclipse Task Force and a veteran of 14 total solar eclipses, offered some caution.

"Solar filters are at least 1,000 times darker than even the darkest regular sunglasses...There’s no way to tell just by looking at them whether eclipse glasses are genuinely safe, but it’s easy to tell if they are not safe," he said.

Luckily, the AAS has provided three tests that you can perform that will help determine your glasses' safety.

The first test is to try on your eclipse glasses indoors. If you can see anything other than potentially a very bright light bulb (and even those should be faint, the AAS warns), they're not safe and should be cut into small pieces and discarded or recycled accordingly.

If they pass the indoor test, take them outside during the daytime and look through the glasses again. As with the indoor test, you shouldn't be able to see anything except maybe the sun's reflection bouncing off objects -- again, it should be faint.

If the glasses pass both of those test, you can then try glancing at the sun through them for less than one second -- never look directly at the sun without this protection. You should see "a sharp-edged, round disk that’s comfortably bright." Depending on which glasses you choose, the sun might have a blue, blueish white, yellow, or orange tint.

Where to buy eclipse glasses

We've done the shopping for you below mainly using guidance from the AAS as suggested by their Solar Eclipse Task Force, and selections chosen from outside that vendor list claim certification by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), a Geneva-based organization of international experts who use their collective knowledge to give their seal of approval.

In addition to the glasses we've suggested, you can also find a Warby Parker location near you to get a free pair when you visit in person, or you can use this interactive map to find one of more than 13,000 libraries across the country who have a limited supply of free glasses.

To shop for glasses delivered straight to your door, keep reading.

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LUNT SOLAR 5 Pack Premium Eclipse Glasses, AAS Approved 2024 Solar Glasses, CE and ISO Certified, HD Film, Crisp Solar Image

If you're purchasing glasses for your family, try a multi-pack such as this one containing five pairs of ISO-certified eclipse glasses built to fit most teens and adults. They'll create a sharp, orange-colored view of the sun with their premium optical filters, plus they feature a fun design. This is the top-selling listing for eclipse glasses on Amazon right now, and more than 7,000 ratings average 4.6 stars thanks to satisfied reviewers giving them the thumbs-up after using them during the October 2023 eclipse.

  • $19.95
  • Amazon

4 Pack Junior Size Eclipse Glasses - AAS Approved, ISO Certified Safe Eclipse Glasses for Kids

If you have little ones you'll be helping to view the eclipse, stock up on smaller glasses that are more likely to fit their head well to avoid slipping, falling off or other incidents that could occur and cause serious damage to their young eyes. Lunt Solar Systems products are manufactured in Arizona, meet all the necessary criteria for safety and are sold through an official Amazon storefront, making these a trustworthy choice.

  • $12.95
  • Amazon
24% off

Solar Eclipse Glasses AAS Approved 2024 - Made in the USA CE and ISO Certified Safe Shades for Direct Sun Viewing - 2 Pack

This Soluna two-pack is a highly vetted choice thanks to the company's easy-to-find ISO certification papers and authentication by the Amazon Transparency Program. They're a great choice for couples looking to view the eclipse together, and top reviewers cite the clarity, quality, comfort and ease of use as reasons to buy.

  • $14.99
  • $19.99
  • Amazon

DayStar Filters Solar Eclipse Glasses (Map Print, Special 50th Anniversary Edition, 10-Pack)

ISO approved for your safety, these collectible eclipse glasses feature a map showing part of the April 2024 eclipse's path across the North American sky. There's even a spot for your signature and the date, making these a great scrapbook item.

  • $5.99
  • B&H