A search for "eclipse glasses" on Amazon brings up over 10,500 results, but it turns out you have to choose your eyewear carefully: Amazon reportedly emailed some shoppers this past weekend offering refunds for glasses and solar lenses purchased without proper safety verification.
KGW, an NBC affiliate in Portland, Oregon first reported the news because their photography team got an email from Amazon advising that the filters the station had purchased were not safe for watching the Great American Eclipse. However, it isn't clear if it is a certain brand of glasses, or fraudulent versions of certified glasses, that are to blame. Some of the companies whose products have been recalled told KGW that their products had been verified by NASA.
"Out of an abundance of caution and in the interests of our customers, we asked third-party sellers that were offering solar eclipse glasses to provide documentation to verify their products were compliant with relevant safety standards," Amazon said in a statement to Refinery29. "The offers from sellers who provided this safety documentation remain available to customers."
If you purchased one of the products in question, you should have received an email letting you know your eligibility for a refund. The Amazon listings for products that have not provided safety documentation have been removed, but the refunds raise alarms since certified eclipse glasses are a must-have for viewing the total solar eclipse this coming Monday, August 21.
Make no mistake: Even if you are not within the path of totality, you will still see a partial solar eclipse and need to wear the glasses or look through a solar filter-covered lens. Failure to do so could result in permanent blindness or eye damage. Those within the path of totality can only look at the sky without glasses at the moment when the moon completely covers the sun (head here to find out when that will occur).
According to NASA, all eclipse glasses should be certified according to ISO 12312-2 safety standards. Look for this verification when buying glasses and, when they arrive, make sure the lenses are not scratched or damaged in any way. Check the American Astronomical Society's list of verified vendors and brands for a complete rundown of safety certified options.
If you're nervous about the validity of your glasses or viewing device, go the DIY route instead, and construct a pinhole viewer for projecting the eclipse. When it comes to eclipse glasses, it's better to be extra safe than sorry.
This piece was updated on August 14, 2017 to include a statement from Amazon.