INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Hundreds of thousands of solar eclipse viewing glasses have flown off store shelves in Indiana as Hoosiers prepare for Monday’s solar eclipse.
Stores like Lowe’s Home Improvement, Walmart, Best Buy and Toys R Us are reporting they’re completely out of the $2 lenses and won’t get another shipment before Monday.
“It’s kind of priceless to me at this point,” said Katy Mann, an Indianapolis mother of four as she held her 3-year-old in one arm and a pack of glasses in her free hand.
Mann said she got them weeks ago through a NASA-approved vendor so she and her four kids younger than 8 can safely enjoy an unforgettable experience.
“I’m most excited to just really experience it with my kids,” Mann said. “It’s like those people afraid of missing out; there’s panic because it’s something they may not experience again and something people possibly will be talking about for a long time.”
Mann runs the resource website Indy with Kids and knows parents in Indianapolis are getting desperate.
“In the last day, I’ve had probably 10-15 different desperate messages on Facebook or email of people asking, ‘where can I get these glasses, have you heard, can you ask people,'” Mann said.
There were several pairs given to Indy-area public libraries, but Jon Barnes with the Indianapolis Public Library confirmed they do not have glasses available for public distribution. Other libraries that did have them in stock, like the Hussey-Mayfield Memorial Public Library in Zionsville that received the special “STAR_net” grant, say their 1,000 pairs were gone in 30 minutes.
Mann said several families are turning to online retailers for the lenses. However, as of Thursday afternoon, the average Amazon delivery of solar eclipse glasses is Tuesday, the day after the eclipse.
Eye doctors said they’re worried the public will try to watch the eclipse without eye protection.
“You have to have the right protection,” emphasized Dr. Penn Moody, an optometrist in downtown Indianapolis. “Regular sunglasses, car windshields, iPhone cameras, don’t have that protection in them.”
Moody explained two things can happen if you look at the sun during an eclipse. The first is a corneal inflammation called keratitis, which can usually be treated, but the real danger is the burning of the retina.
“You can burn a hole in the retina and that’s permanent vision loss,” Moody said. “It’ll be a while before they notice it. When it happens, it’s not an immediate response, it’ll take a week to a few days to a month depending.”
He said your first sign you have retinal damage is blurred vision, darkened vision or the feeling you’ve got something in front of your eyes. He said retinal holes are permanent.
At this point, Moody said, whatever you do, don’t look at the sun.
“Find someone that has some protection and borrow it from them,” he said. “Or look at it through a box.”
NASA has also recommended solar eclipse viewing boxes. Watch a tutorial on how to make one here.
Mann recommended families without glasses plan to attend a community event where organizers will have glasses on hand for viewing.
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis will have a viewing party free with museum admission, and will provide glasses as long as supplies last. The museum opens at 10 am Monday, with the party at 1 pm.
Eagle Creek Park’s Earth Discovery Center is also hosting a viewing party with park admission from 1-3 p.m. Monday.
Butler University’s Clowes Hall will be open from 1 to 3:30 pm with glasses available while supplies last.
Families can also visit the Nickel Plate District Amphitheater in downtown Fishers from 1-4 p.m. Monday. It’s hosted by the Hamilton East Public Library and early birds will get free eclipse glasses and a chocolate “moonpie.”