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Color of Money: Don't be blindsided during the eclipse

Michelle Singletary on

Read the consumer comments before you buy. When I did, several people who purchased from reputable manufacturers complained that their glasses arrived damaged. Do not use damaged eyewear to view the eclipse. Return them for a replacement. Even glasses that are scratched or wrinkled should be avoided, according to NASA. The agency also cautions against using eclipse-viewing eyewear that is more than 3 years old.

You can find a full compilation of NASA's safety information at https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/safety. By the way, the agency will have live programming and interactive online content during the eclipse at https://www.nasa.gov/eclipselive.

There's lots of money to be made from what's being called the "Great American Eclipse." Hotels and camping grounds will be overflowing and -- if you can still get a spot -- it won't be cheap. If you can't afford to travel to the best viewing places, there will be lots of coverage. The Washington Post will have special features for the big day of darkness that will include live blogs, videos, graphics and photos.

Here's a Post FAQ on what you need to know about the eclipse: http://wapo.st/2vfn71m. You'll find more information about why you need to protect your eyes at http://wapo.st/2vfFC5T. Check your local library system to see if any branches are hosting eclipse events in which free glasses may be distributed (while supplies last of course).

If you're going to be hardheaded and try to watch the eclipse unprotected, be forewarned you could end up with severe retinal burns. The damage could be temporary or permanent.

It's like "a magnifying glass on a leaf when you were a kid," an optometrist told Angela Fritz, who is an atmospheric scientist and The Post's deputy weather editor. Read her report on what happened to people who watch a solar eclipse without special glasses (http://wapo.st/2ugAJop).

Be careful. And don't let the scammers ruin your excitement during this epic celestial event.

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Readers can write to Michelle Singletary c/o The Washington Post, 1301 K St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20071. Her email address is michelle.singletary@washpost.com. Follow her on Twitter (@SingletaryM) or Facebook (www.facebook.com/MichelleSingletary). Comments and questions are welcome, but due to the volume of mail, personal responses may not be possible. Please also note comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer's name, unless a specific request to do otherwise is indicated.

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group

 

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