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What to do with your leftover solar eclipse glasses

On Monday 8 April a total solar eclipse of the sun took place across the United States, Mexico, and Canada.

Leading up to the eclipse, Nasa warned Americans that no one should look directly at the eclipse without protective eyewear, which had to specifically meet the ISO 12312-2 international standard. Now that the eclipse has come and gone, many are questioning what to do with all of the eyewear they have leftover.

The options people have for the glasses are to either recycle them, donate them, or possibly save them for a future eclipse.

Because most of the certified glasses were made out of cardboard, the University of Rochester stated that the body of the frames should be recycled, while the lenses themselves should be placed in a trashcan.

You could save your eclipse glasses for 16 February 2026. Despite North America only experiencing a partial eclipse on that day, the glasses will still be needed if you want to see it, so it may be worth keeping your eyewear in a safe place.

Solar eclipse glasses should not be reused if they are more than three years old, according to Nasa, so it is advised to recycle them after 2026.

The next total solar eclipse after 2026 crossing through North America will take place on 22 August 2044.

But if you’d rather donate the glasses, many charities in the US and Canada are accepting leftover glasses, including nonprofits Astronomers Without Borders and Eclipse Glasses USA.

Astronomers Without Borders is collecting glasses to then disperse the donations across the globe for the next eclipse. After the 2017 total solar eclipse, millions of sunglasses were donated, but only tens of thousands were usable. Glasses can be dropped off at any Warby Parker location in the US.

Eclipse Glasses USA is also accepting donations specifically for their two initiatives, Eclipse Give Back and the “5 for 1 program”. The give-back initiative works with other donation sites to bring undamaged eclipse glasses to other countries anticipating eclipse events.

In the “5 for 1 program”, for every five packs of glasses purchased, Eclipse Glasses USA will donate one pair of glasses to a school in Latin America – where there will be an annular eclipse in October 2024.

Online searches for ‘blind’ and ‘eye damage’ have also surged in the US following Monday’s solar eclipse.

Despite the warnings, search trends from Google show that terms like ‘retina damage’, ‘eyes hurt’, ‘can’t see’, ‘blind’ and ‘eye damage’ all spiked in the hours after the eclipse.

The US government issued warnings of the risks for anyone not wearing appropriate eye protection. People using binoculars or a telescope to watch the moon pass in front of the Sun needed to use special filters.

Nasa said that not doing so “will instantly cause severe eye injury”, with the US space agency stating on its website that the only safe time to look at the Sun without glasses or filter was “during the brief total phase of a total solar eclipse, when the moon completely blocks the sun’s bright face”.

Views of the solar eclipse were best beneath the sun’s path of totality in the northeast where skies were clear.

This region was also where most people searched for terms relating to eye damage following the solar eclipse, according to Google’s data.

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  • Source of information and images “independent”

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