Will Your Old Eclipse Glasses Work or Do You Need to Get New Ones?

Most eclipse glasses can be used indefinitely as long as the filters aren't damaged in any way whatsoever.

Callie (Carlos) Cadorniga - Author

Apr. 8 2024, Published 11:23 a.m. ET

A man using eclipse glasses
Source: Getty Images

It's that time again for North America. Some folks in the U.S. will be lucky enough to view a solar eclipse. They happen about two or three times a year all over the world, but ones viewable in North American territories only occur once every 12 years or so, according to NASA scientists. The last one occurred in 2017 with one following on April 8, 2024. The next eclipse across North America won't come until August 2044 at the earliest, making each one a special occasion.

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Yet even though they aren't exactly frequent, most people know the cardinal rules for solar eclipses. One of the most important rules is to never look directly at one without protection. Doing so can cause severe and even permanent eye damage. As such, people have come up with all sorts of ways to experience the solar eclipse safely and effectively. These days, we've gone past cereal boxes and foil and have moved on to eclipse glasses. But do these special specs expire at any point?

A person holding solar eclipse glasses from NASA
Source: Getty Images
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Will you need new eclipse glasses if you have old ones from 2017 or earlier?

As their name suggests, eclipse glasses are special sunglasses specifically designed for viewing solar eclipses. These are different from regular sunglasses which should never be used to watch an eclipse.

Special eclipse sunglasses are said to adhere to specific ultraviolet wavelength patterns and darkness requirements to allow users to view an eclipse straight on. For all intents and purposes, they seem to be the perfect device for solar eclipse viewing parties.

But will your old ones work for future eclipses? After all, you might have bought them for something that only occurs every 12 years. Would it even make sense to re-up on something that won't occur for another decade or so? According to many sources, it depends.

According to the NASA advisory page for the 2017 solar eclipse, eclipse glasses can be used indefinitely as long as the filters aren't damaged in any way whatsoever.

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However, some manufacturers may include expiration dates on the packaging for their specific products while others may not. If the eclipse glasses you're buying specifically have an expiration date, it may be wise to invest in a new pair for future eclipses.

On a related note, photographers who wish to capture the event may also want to exercise caution. Wearing eclipse glasses while using regular cameras isn't advisable. Typical camera lenses and filters won't protect your eyes even if you're wearing eclipse glasses. The camera will need its own special eclipse viewing filters for optimal safety.

As long as you're up to date and well-informed on all of your eclipse-viewing tech, you should be able to view the eclipse without any issues.

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