Solar eclipse glasses: How to check safety and use them correctly

Four people wear solar eclipse glasses and look into the sky while smiling
If you're looking for some eclipse glasses to view the upcoming solar eclipse on April 8 our guide will help you find the right pair. (Image credit: Getty Images)

The great North American total solar eclipse of April 8 is over, but remember: Never observe the sun without proper protection. Get a pair of safe solar eclipse glasses from reputable dealers we recommend down below to ensure you and your family remain safe when observing future solar eclipses.

Have them already? Read on as we show you how to check if they're real or fake solar eclipse glasses and how to look after them as well as use them properly during a solar eclipse.

While there are lots of exciting ways to observe the sun, the relative infrequency of solar eclipses makes them particularly thrilling events to witness first-hand. Solar eclipses can take on different forms and so keep an eye out for strange eclipse phenomena. These forms include partial eclipses, where the moon partially covers the sun and creates a crescent shape, total eclipses, where the moon completely obscures the sun, and annular eclipses, where the moon appears smaller than the sun and creates a ring of fire around it.

Learn about the stages of a total solar eclipse to be sure you spot everything when the next one comes around. You can find information on upcoming eclipses happening wherever you are in the world in our when is the next eclipse guide or via a helpful graphic that charts the projected course of each eclipse on

Solar eclipse glasses deals May 2024

Regardless of the type of eclipse you're looking to view, it is essential that you use adequate eye protection whenever you look directly at the sun to avoid causing permanent and irreparable damage to your retinas

While it might be tempting to pick up a cheap pair of solar-eclipse glasses from places like Amazon or eBay, this puts you at significant risk of buying unsafe or counterfeit glasses that won't provide your eyes with adequate protection. Instead, we recommend buying from one of the reputable sellers featured on this page, or from others that have been approved by the American Astronomical Society, to ensure that they meet current safety standards.

If you're interested in solar binoculars, telescopes or filter adapters be sure to check out our guide to the Best solar viewing kit for the solar eclipse.

Safety standards

You should never look directly at the sun, but there are ways to safely observe an eclipse. See how to safely observe a solar eclipse with this infographic. (Image credit: Karl Tate, Contributor)

Wherever you buy from, it's extremely important to check the safety standards of any glasses you plan to use to view a solar eclipse. Even if a product looks like suitable solar eye protection, that doesn't mean that it's been designed to block out enough harmful radiation to keep your eyes safe when looking at the sun head-on (which is very different to just going outside on a sunny day).

Celestron EclipSmart Solar Eclipse Glasses

Celestron EclipSmart Solar Eclipse Glasses on a white background

(Image credit: B&H)

Available in a handy four-pack to kit out the whole family, these Celestron EclipSmart Solar Eclipse Glasses will keep you well protected while you view the eclipse.

It's best to look for a product that is labeled with 'ISO', which stands for the International Organization for Standardization.

The ISO is an independent organization that writes safety and quality standards for all kinds of things, including eyewear, health care, food production and more based on a broad consensus of the scientific community. If you find eclipse glasses or other solar viewers that aren't labeled 'ISO', then they aren't guaranteed to protect your eyes the way they should.

ISO-approved solar-eclipse glasses must meet certain safety requirements:

  • No more than 0.00032 percent of the sun's light may be transmitted through the filters.
  • The filters must be free of any defects, such as scratches, bubbles and dents.
  • Handheld viewers must be large enough to cover both eyes.
  • Labels on the viewers (or packaging) must include the name of the manufacturer, instructions for safe use and warnings of the dangers of improper use.

These eclipse glasses by American Paper Optics are ISO-approved and have instructions and warnings printed on the back. (Image credit:

Where to find ISO-approved eclipse viewers

According to Rick Fienberg, press officer for the American Astronomical Society (AAS), most ISO-approved eclipse glasses use solar filters manufactured by AstroSolar and Thousand Oaks Optical. However, he did note that several different retailers sell eclipse glasses and handheld filters that are approved by the ISO.

The AAS has published a list of reputable vendors and manufacturers of eclipse glasses that includes Lunt Solar SystemsAmerican Paper Optics and Rainbow Symphony.

Sunglasses simply won't do

Eclipse glasses and sunglasses might look somewhat similar, but they are made of very different materials. You should never look directly at the sun while wearing sunglasses, no matter how tinted your lenses may be.

Rainbow Symphony Plastic Eclipse Glasses

Rainbow Symphony Plastic Eclipse Glasses with their case on a white background

(Image credit: Amazon)

If you're after more of a sunglasses look, these Rainbow Symphony Plastic Eclipse Glasses are ISO certified and also come in a clip-on model for glasses wearers. 

"Normal sunglasses typically let in between 10 and 20 percent of daylight… but that's still way too bright," Fienberg told "The filters that are made for looking at the sun are typically 100,000 times darker."

Sunglasses tend to be made of glass, plastic or some kind of polycarbonate material, while solar filters are made of one of two materials: polyester film coated in aluminum, or something called 'black polymer', Fienberg explained. Most eclipse glasses and solar viewers use the black polymer, which is a flexible resin infused with carbon particles. Both types of filters will reduce visible light down to safe levels.

Welding goggles

Welders planning to observe the solar eclipse may or may not be in luck, as some welding filters will adequately protect your eyes from the sun. But, please, double-check to make sure that the goggles you intend to use are the right kind.

"There is a particular circumstance in which it's safe," Fienberg said. "We don't recommend it because it's too easy to get the wrong kind of welding filter." Only goggles made for electric arc welding can be used to observe the sun, and they must have a shade scale number of 12 or higher. Shade 13 is ideal for solar viewing, but that shade is typically not sold in stores, Fienberg added.

Chasing the total solar eclipse

If you're lucky enough to catch a total solar eclipse within the narrow path of totality, then it is safe to remove your protective glasses only while the moon is fully obscuring the sun. "In fact, if you keep your filters on during totality, you won't see anything" because they block out almost all light," Fienberg said. Just be sure to check in advance how long the sun is projected to be completely obscured by the moon (which will usually only be for a few minutes at most) and replace your glasses as soon as the sun starts to reappear to avoid the risk of retinal damage. Remember that it only takes a small part of the sun to be visible to permanently harm your eyes, so if you're watching a partial or annular solar eclipse, you'll need to keep your glasses on the entire time.

American Paper Optics Solar Eclipse Safety Glasses

American Paper Optics solar eclipse safety glasses on a white background

(Image credit: B&H)

If you're planning your next solar eclipse on a tight budget, these American Paper Optics Solar Eclipse Glasses are a super-affordable option that doesn't compromise on safety.

This makes total solar eclipses particularly impressive. "A total solar eclipse is truly spectacular and awesome in the true meaning of the word 'awesome', whereas a partial solar eclipse could pass unnoticed," Fienberg said. "Even if you do have a solar filter and watch the sun turn into a thin crescent, it's nowhere near as exciting as a total eclipse, because you miss all the really spectacular phenomena that are associated with totality. It doesn't get dark, you don't see the corona, you don't see bright red prominences of gas jetting off from the edge of the sun. It's just not the same at all."

Editor's Note: If you snap an amazing picture of a solar eclipse, and would like to share it with's readers, send your photos, comments, and your name and location to

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Hanneke Weitering
Contributing expert

Hanneke Weitering is a multimedia journalist in the Pacific Northwest reporting on the future of aviation at and Aviation International News and was previously the Editor for Spaceflight and Astronomy news here at As an editor with over 10 years of experience in science journalism she has previously written for Scholastic Classroom Magazines, MedPage Today and The Joint Institute for Computational Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. After studying physics at the University of Tennessee in her hometown of Knoxville, she earned her graduate degree in Science, Health and Environmental Reporting (SHERP) from New York University. Hanneke joined the team in 2016 as a staff writer and producer, covering topics including spaceflight and astronomy. She currently lives in Seattle, home of the Space Needle, with her cat and two snakes. In her spare time, Hanneke enjoys exploring the Rocky Mountains, basking in nature and looking for dark skies to gaze at the cosmos. 

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