Finding NASA approved solar eclipse glasses just three days before the big event is proving to be nearly impossible for people around Tampa Bay, but there are safe alternatives.
People are now turning to welder’s lenses, which provide protection from harmful rays, but not all are suitable for the eclipse.
NASA recommends using a shade of 12 or higher, noting that some people may find the sun too bright with a 12 and too dim with a 14 .
Finding a shade 13 can be tricky.
“If we would have had any idea that this was coming along without the last minute,” said Jason Jeffcoat at Ace Welding Supply, “ we could have really stocked up and helped the community a lot more.”
Jeffcoat says they’ve gotten thousands of calls in the last two weeks from people asking to buy welding lenses.
He’s already sold out of his 13 and 14 shade lenses, so he’s turned to combining lesser shades.
“I actually sold out the pair that I did set up for myself,” he said.
Looking directly at the sun during the eclipse can be harmful and even cause permanent eye damage.
“Basically your point of focus would disappear,” said Dr.William Stephan at St. Lucy’s Eye Center in Tampa.
He recommends only using NASA recommended glasses and says it’s important to only use a welding lens with the recommended 12-14 shade.
He also suggests people build their own, cheaper alternative like a pinhole box made from cardboard or just use two paper plates with a small hole made from a needle punched in one of the plates.
You won’t be looking directly into the sun, since the box will be pointed at the eclipse while you look away and into the box or plate, but you’ll be able to see the shadow without harming your eyes.
If you don’t have time to do either of these options, you can always watch the live NASA feed with a perfect picture of the eclipse, or just wait until the next one in the US, in 2024.