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Warby Parker offering free eclipse glasses for total solar eclipse

Via NASA

(NEW YORK) — As North America gears up for the total solar eclipse on April 8, Warby Parker, a New York City-based eyeglass retailer with over 200 stores across the United States and Canada, has announced it will distribute free ISO-certified solar eclipse glasses to ensure safe viewing for spectators.

This celestial event marks the last total solar eclipse visible from the contiguous United States until 2044. Those hoping for a glimpse, however, will need to take precautions to avoid injury.

Starting April 1, individuals can visit any Warby Parker retail location to receive up to two pairs of solar eclipse glasses at no cost, subject to availability, according to the company. These glasses are ISO-certified and meet the stringent safety standards required for direct observation of the celestial phenomenon, according to Warby Parker’s website.

Viewing solar eclipses or the sun directly — whether through a camera lens or the naked eye — without proper protection can lead to serious eye injuries and potentially cause vision loss, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

The American Astronomical Society and the American Academy of Ophthalmology have emphasized the critical need for eye protection, cautioning that much like how a magnifying glass can use sunlight to ignite a fire, looking at the sun without proper safeguards can seriously harm our eyes.

The sun’s rays, when focused by the eye’s lens, which normally helps us see clearly, can burn the retina and lead to solar retinopathy, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. This condition may cause persistent vision issues or even irreversible sight loss.

Regular sunglasses do not offer the protection our eyes need during such an event, the American Academy of Ophthalmology states. The gold standard for safety is to use special-purpose solar filters. These are found in eclipse glasses adhering to the ISO 12312-2 standard.

Special viewers like pinhole projectors, which allow people to see the shadow of the eclipse without looking at it directly, can also shield eyes from harmful solar radiation.

More ways to find free glasses

If you do not live near a Warby Parker retail location, the American Astronomical Society’s Solar Eclipse Task Force spearheaded the Solar Eclipse Activities for Libraries project to distribute 5 million solar viewing glasses to 13,000 libraries across the U.S. Availability may vary.

New York state is also offering free I LOVE NY ISO-certified eclipse glasses at Welcome Centers, select Thruway Rest Stops and other statewide locations, with a daily limit of two per person while supplies last.

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