Amazon is issuing safety notifications and refunds to shoppers who have purchased shoddy solar eclipse glasses from its website, says a new report from Verge.
As the US gears up to witness the first total solar eclipse in nearly 40 years, the demand for protective glasses designed to witness the rare phenomenon has increased significantly. Scores of potential eclipse viewers have already got purpose-built ultra-dark sunglasses, while many are still waiting for their orders to be delivered.
But, as the excitement over the eclipse mounts, fears of counterfeiting have struck one of the biggest marketplaces on the internet. Several manufacturers have sold substandard eclipse glasses on Amazon, prompting the company to issue urgent safety notifications and refunds to buyers of those glasses.
Amazon launched a crackdown against vendors selling counterfeit or unsafe versions of the glasses with forged ISO labels and removed their listings from the website. The company even sent out an email warning customers about the risks associated with the product they've purchased. The email read, "We recommend that you DO NOT use this product to view the sun or the eclipse". Those who didn't receive a warning email from Amazon are safe to use their product on 21 August.
"Safety is among our highest priorities," the retail giant noted in a statement to KGW. "Out of an abundance of caution, we have proactively reached out to customers and provided refunds for eclipse glasses that may not comply with industry standards. We want customers to buy with confidence anytime they make a purchase on Amazon.com and eclipse glasses sold on Amazon.com are required to comply with the relevant ISO standard."
There's no word on how many products have been removed or recalled, but many vendors are alleging Amazon pulled their listings, even when their products met the ISO 12312-2 safety standard for eye protection.
As much as it is exciting to witness a complete solar eclipse, it is worth noting that staring at the phenomenon — without proper eye protection — for any length of time is extremely hazardous and can lead to severe eye damage or blindness.
That said, the American Astronomical Society has published a list of reputable manufacturers and resellers that provide original eclipse glasses meeting the minimum safety standard.