Sunglasses 101: Can You Wear Sunglasses to View the Eclipse?

August 20, 2017 by Maurissa Moore - No Comments

Repeat after me: My eyes are awesome, and I WILL NOT wear anything but ISO 12312-2 safety standard compliant eyewear to look at the eclipse. Ever. 

So, the answer is a big fat HECK NO, sunglasses WILL NOT protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays while you look directly at the eclipse.  

If that’s all you need to know, then trust us, and ditch the sunglasses, snag yourself some approved eclipse eyewear, and enjoy an incredibly unique experience without risking your eyesight.  

If you’d like to know why wearing sunglasses to directly view the eclipse is a terrible idea, then read on.

:: Why Sunglasses WILL NOT Protect Your Eyes During the Eclipse ::

  • Sunglasses are designed to protect your eyes from reflected, indirect sunlight. Sure, you may occasionally look directly at the sun, but it’s rarely on purpose, and it’s almost always only for a second or two. According to NASA, retina damage will occur within a minute of direct sunlight exposure, maybe even less. Don’t look directly at the sun, even with sunglasses on.
  • Here’s some perspective: Eclipse glasses block 99.9999% of the sun’s light. Your sunglasses do not do that. If they did, then they would totally suck. Imagine cycling and only being able to see 0.0001% of the sunlight. Yikes.
  • Depending on the lens color and technology, most sunglasses filter about 60% of the sun’s light. 60% is not 99.9999%. (CLICK HERE to learn more about lens colors and how they work.)
  • Joel Schuman, chair of ophthalmology at NYU Langone Health, told VOX, “The light from the sun is very intense and concentrated into a very small area, and then that light is converted into heat, and that heat cooks the retina.” Even if you’re wearing sunglasses, the sun will literally burn a hole in your eyeballs if you look directly at it for too long. I’d like to keep my retinas raw, thank you.
  • Eclipse glasses look way more awesome than regular sunglasses, so you’ll probably get a date while you’re wearing them. Bonus.

Image: Scott Winterton via


:: Other Important Things to Know ::

  • Make sure your eclipse eyewear or viewer is legit. There are many scammers out there trying to make a buck while you potentially damage your eyesight. Jerks.
  • Do not use a solar viewer or filter if it’s scratched or damaged in any way.
  • According to NASA, most filters only last about three years. Let’s believe NASA because the people who work there are smart.
  • DO NOT remove your approved solar filter unless you are in the path of totality, and the sun is totally covered by the moon. CLICK HERE to see if you’re one of the lucky ones who will get to experience a truly total eclipse.

Image: Eclipse 2017 via


Other Helpful Eclipse Resources:

NASA’s Eclipse Safety Site

How to Make a Pinhole Camera to Safely View the Eclipse

Reputable Vendors of Solar Filters & Viewers

Title Image: Ben Kaye-Skinner via
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