What to do with your solar eclipse glasses

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Now that Monday’s celestial spectacle has come and gone, millions of people across North America may find their protective eclipse eyewear lying around the house.

For the fortunate folks who witnessed the rare solar event, there may not be a need to throw out gently used pairs of solar eclipse viewing glasses.

Eclipse glasses that meet a specific safety standard, known as ISO 12312-2, are safe to reuse, according to the American Astronomical Society. That means the same glasses worn during the 2024 total solar eclipse will serve as effective protection during the next total solar eclipse in 2026 that will be visible over Greenland, Iceland, Spain, Russia and a small portion of Portugal and appear as a partial eclipse in parts of Europe, Africa and North America.

The glasses can also shield eyes in 2044 during the next total solar eclipse that will be visible from the contiguous United States, over North Dakota and Montana.

“It’s best to store eclipse glasses away from anything sharp that could scratch or puncture the filters, and if there’s any doubt about the safety of your glasses by the time of the next eclipse, it’s best to discard the glasses and get a new pair,” said Dr. Kerry Hensley, editor of AAS Nova and the society’s deputy press officer, in an email.

Do not reuse the glasses if the lenses appear to be scratched, ripped or punctured, or if the solar filter is detached from the frame, Hensley added. Dispose of damaged or scratched solar eclipse glasses by removing the lenses and recycling the cardboard, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

The American Astronomical Society advises against using any water or liquid glass cleaner to clean the lenses, as this may ruin the cardboard and cause the lenses to detach.

While some glasses may include a warning to discard them if they are more than three years old, the society states that the warning is outdated and does not apply to eclipse glasses that meet the safety standard.

Where to donate solar eclipse glasses

If the owner of a pair of solar eclipse glasses is not planning on globe-trotting to catch a glimpse of the upcoming solar eclipses, there are several organizations collecting viewers with the aim of donating to those who will be on the path of upcoming events.

Eclipse Glasses USA, a retailer of eclipse glasses approved by the American Astronomical Society, is collecting used but undamaged glasses to send to schools in Chile and Argentina that will be within the path where the October 2024 annular eclipse, otherwise known as the “ring of fire,” will be visible.

Astronomers Without Borders, a nonprofit organization that collected more than 2 million glasses after the 2017 total solar eclipse and redistributed hundreds of thousands of pairs before the 2024 eclipse, has a growing list of drop-off locations for donations of gently used glasses.

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