Though the total solar eclipse due to surge across the US in August will not be passing through New Zealand, it’s still interesting to see the value of standards in protecting viewers of the eclipse from damage to the eyes.
With the right eyewear it is safe to look directly at the sun during an eclipse and watch the moon pass in front. The daylight dims eerily around you, shadows sharpen, the temperature drops, and you can see the solar weather licking and streaming at the edges of the moon’s dark obscuring disc.
NASA safety warnings make clear that you should only directly view an eclipse when wearing glasses certified to have met ISO 12312-2:2015 Eye and face protection – Sunglasses and related eyewear – Part 2: Filters for direct observation of the sun.
This standard is part of an international series which also covers the eye protection of sunglasses in normal circumstances. The sun can damage your eyes even without looking directly at it, but sunglasses made to the standard should protect you from solar radiation. The committee revising the Australian/New Zealand standards for sunglasses recently aligned the local with the international standards, while maintaining the higher protective level in line with the severity of the climatic conditions in our region.
- AS/NZS 1067.1:2016 Eye and face protection – Sunglasses and fashion spectacles – Part 1: Requirements
- AS/NZS 1067.2:2016 Eye and face protection – Sunglasses and fashion spectacles – Part 2: Test methods
In New Zealand you should buy sunglasses that meet these standards. The two AS/NZS 1067 standards are voluntary in New Zealand, with some manufacturers advertising their adherence to these standards, others citing European standards, and others saying nothing. Consumer NZ tested a large number of sunglasses against the previous version of the standard in 2015. View the full list of sunglasses that did and didn’t meet the standard.
Image © User:Arnaudh/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA-3.0