On September 2, 2017, The Hannon Law Firm, LLC filed a class action against Europtics, Inc. on behalf of people who used eclipse glasses received or purchased from a Europtics, Inc. store to observe the total solar eclipse event on August 21, 2017. The case was filed in the District Court of Denver County.
Europtics offered eclipse glasses with the sale of a new pair or the pickup of a previously purchased pair of eyeglasses or sunglasses. The lawsuit claims that the glasses Europtics provided to its customers did not meet the ISO-12312-2 standards for eye protection and so were unsafe and hazardous for viewing a solar eclipse. Further, it claims Europtics was aware of the ISO standard, and that providing eclipse glasses that did not meet that standard could and likely would result in eye injury.
View the Heise v. Europtics Class Action Complaint
THE 2017 TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE
On August 21, 2017, the entire United States was treated to a once-every-two generations event: a total eclipse of the sun by the Earth’s moon. Such events are known as Solar Eclipses. During a Solar Eclipse, the moon moves between the sun and the Earth. When the orbital planes of both the sun and the moon are identical, the moon casts a shadow onto the Earth.
What Happens In A Solar Eclipse?
During a TSE, the moon actually casts two shadows on the Earth. The first shadow is known as the “umbra” and is the dark center of the moon’s shadow, which gets smaller as it reaches Earth. The second shadow is known as the “penumbra” which gets larger as it reaches Earth. People standing in the penumbra will see a partial eclipse, while those standing in the umbra will see a total eclipse, also known as a “Totality.” Serious eye injury can occur when people view either partial or total solar eclipses without adequate protective eye-wear.
What Do Compliant Solar Eclipse Glasses Look Like?
Compliant glasses have lenses that meet the ISO 12312-2 standard, the international standard for safely viewing the sun. They usually look like cardboard 3D glasses with lenses that are much darker than ordinary sunglasses, because they block 99.99% of the sun’s rays. Compliant eclipse glasses will also have a label showing that they meet the ISO requirement somewhere on the interior sides of the glasses, according to the American Astronomical Society (AAS).
If My Eclipse Glasses Have The ISO Certification, Does That Mean They Are Authentic?
Unfortunately, having the ISO certification on your eclipse glasses is not enough to confirm their compliance. Experts warn that many vendors have started printing glasses with ISO certifications, even if the glasses do not meet industry standards.
How Can I Tell If My Eyes Were Damaged From Watching The Eclipse?
The American Academy of Ophthalmology (“AAO”) states unequivocally that looking directly at the sun can seriously damage your eyes. The AAO admonishes that “[s]taring at the sun for even a short time without wearing the right eye protection can damage your retina permanently.” Even short exposures can cause vision impairment, up to and including blindness, which is known as solar retinopathy. Symptoms of solar retinopathy typically show up approximately 12 hours after the viewing event, and can include the following symptoms:
- Blurry vision
- A central blind spot in one or both eyes
- Increased sensitivity to light
- Distorted vision
- Changes in perception of color
Short term issues arising from unprotected or improperly protected direct Solar Eclipse watching can include “solar keratitis” which is similar to sunburn of the cornea (the front part of the eye) and can cause eye pain and light sensitivity, with symptoms often occurring within 24 hours after exposure.
How Long After Looking At The Solar Eclipse With Non-Compliant Glasses Would I Start To Experience Symptoms?
Symptoms of solar retinopathy typically show up approximately 12 hours after the viewing event. Solar keratitis, like a sunburn of the cornea, can have symptoms within 24 hours after the exposure.
Is Using Compliant Eclipse Glasses The Only Safe Way To Look Directly At The Sun?
The AAO warns on its website that the safe way to look directly at the sun is through special purpose solar filters. These solar purpose filters are used in Eclipse Glasses,” and must meet a stringent worldwide standard known as ISO 12312-2. Commercially available sunglasses, even with darkest and polarized lenses, do not meet ISO 12312-2 requirements and are not safe for viewing Solar Eclipses.
What Should I Do If My Eyes Were Damaged From Non-Compliant Eclipse Glasses?
The Hannon Law Firm, LLC has significant expertise in prosecuting class actions for recovering damages for harm caused to large numbers of persons. We have successfully certified, and taken to trial or settled class actions in Missouri, Arizona, Colorado and Wisconsin. We are licensed in Colorado, District of Columbia, Missouri, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
If you believe you’ve been affected by non-compliant eclipse glasses, we are here to help. You can call our office at 303-861-8800 or fill out the form below.