How Do Solar Eclipse Glasses Work?

Solar eclipses can be some of the coolest natural occurrences in our world today. As a reminder, solar eclipses occur when a portion of the Earth is engulfed in a shadow cast by the Moon. When this happens, the sun is fully or partially blocked, creating some miraculous sights. In fact, depending on where you are, a solar eclipse can create complete darkness in the middle of an afternoon.

Because solar eclipses are so rare and awe-inspiring, many people eagerly anticipate them. Some people even travel hundreds of miles to ensure that they are in a location that will experience complete darkness. Once the solar eclipse occurs, people eagerly anticipate looking at the world around them (and perhaps taking a few selfies). It is all too tempting—whether you are in the middle of a city or in the middle of the woods.

There is one problem with this common behavior, however. Before and during a solar eclipse, many people don’t hesitate to look at the sun. This makes intuitive sense, as these people are looking to the precise moment when the Moon moves directly in front of the Sun. But having said this, looking at the Sun—even if it is partially blocked the Moon—can cause permanent, severe damage to your eyes. You can even go blind by looking at a solar eclipse.

To protect themselves, some people choose to wear solar eclipse glasses. This is a wise decision. Nevertheless, some solar eclipse glasses are better than others. Therefore, it is important to understand how solar eclipse glasses work and why it’s in your interest to choose more expensive glasses than cheap, plastic ones.

How Solar Eclipse Glasses Work

To reiterate, you will want to use solar eclipse glasses—rather than your standard sunglasses—when looking at a solar eclipse.

Why is this?

Solar eclipse glasses work because they are made of a different type of material. Your standard pair of sunglasses are made of glass, plastic or poly-carbonate material. Importantly, sunglasses only block out 10 to 20 percent of daylight and ultraviolet rays. Quite obviously, visible light can still pass through your favorite pair of sunglasses. Even though you may believe that the 10 to 20 percent blockage of daylight and ultraviolet rays can protect you when looking at a solar eclipse, your sunglasses don’t provide nearly enough protection against eye damage.

By contrast, solar eclipse glasses provide much more protection. In fact, these glasses are a whopping 100,000 times darker than sunglasses. They are made of black polymer, which is a flexible resin that is infused with carbon particles. Because of the strength of black polymer, solar eclipse glasses block all ultraviolet rays and nearly all visible light.

This difference in construct is key. When you look at a solar eclipse with solar eclipse glasses, you will see the shadow of the moon over the Sun, with the Sun’s rays surrounding the moon. On the other hand, with your regular pair of sunglasses, you will see much more of the sky and your surroundings, but you will be taking inordinate risks with your eye health. The UVB rays from the Sun can burn your corneas’ outer cells and the Sun’s UVA rays can significantly affect your retina and macula. Even though you think you are protected because the sky looks darker, your eyes could be suffering this damage. Ultimately, your sunglasses do not have the inherent protections against the Sun’s ultraviolet rays as compared to solar eclipse glasses.

Therefore, if you think your regular sunglasses or even polarized lenses in 3D glasses will protect your eyes, we strongly urge you to reconsider. By relying on solar eclipse glasses, you can be sure that your eyes will be protected during the next eclipse.

Choosing the Right Solar Eclipse Glasses

While you absolutely want to purchase solar eclipse glasses for the next solar eclipse, there is a key caveat here. There are many solar eclipse glasses on the market today (particularly on Amazon). Unfortunately, not all of them provide adequate protection when you are looking at an eclipse. You ultimately need to do your homework in order to find solar eclipse glasses that will properly protect your eyes.

While you may believe that cheap, plastic “solar eclipse glasses: offer you protection from a solar eclipse, they will be gravely mistaken. The lenses of cheap plastic sunglasses are not made of black polymer, which is the key material that protects your eyes during an eclipse. So even though you may discover certain solar eclipse glasses that claim to protect your eyes, you will want to double check the material. If those glasses are made of plastic, you will want to move on.

If you are looking for solar eclipse glasses that will protect your eyes, you may want to consider some of the options that we have at Rx-Safety. Specifically, we carry the Shade 14 line which is much superior to cheap, plastic solar eclipse glasses.

For instance, the Solar Eclipse Glasses, Shade 14 Welding Lenses have exceptionally dark lenses. They are intended for either solar eclipse viewing or welding. As with other solar eclipse glasses, this particular pair is far too dark to be used as sunglasses. Ultimately, this pair of glasses block over 99 percent of ultraviolet light and 97 percent of infrared radiation. What this means is that you can have the confidence that your eyes will be safe when you are viewing the next solar eclipse. And if you are a welder, you can purchase this pair of glasses for both your day job and on eclipse days.

In addition to the Solar Eclipse Glasses, Shade 14 Welding Lenses, we are Rx-Safety also offer Solar Eclipse Glasses, Shade 14 Welding Glass Lenses. Like the prior line, this pair of glasses have extremely dark lenses that you can use for both welding and viewing solar eclipses. The glasses block 99 percent of ultraviolet light and 97 percent of infrared radiation. This line also has a slightly different design compared to the Solar Eclipses Glasses, Shade 14 Welding Glass Lenses. That said, it contains the same excellent protections so that you can confidently view the next eclipse.

These are just two examples, but the fact remains that there are different types of solar eclipse glasses out there. Make sure that you are examining the quality and reading the fine print before your purchase. Doing so can prevent severe eye damage—or even worse.

Observing Nature’s Wonders

A solar eclipse is one of the most awe-inspiring natural events that we can see. From early human history to today, we have stopped and observed this amazing natural phenomenon. In modern times, however, it is now clear that we cannot observe solar eclipses with the naked eye or with sunglasses. Rather, we must protect our eyes by purchasing solar eclipse glasses.

Even though purchasing solar eclipse glasses is a great start, we need to ensure that we are purchasing the right solar eclipse glasses. By avoiding some of the cheap, plastic knockoffs and purchasing high-quality solar eclipse glasses, we can have science work in our favor. Therefore, whether you purchase your solar eclipses glasses from Rx-Safety or another retailer, we encourage you to protect yourself today.

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