There is a total solar eclipse happening on Monday, August 21st. It’s an incredibly rare event, so people are traveling from all over the country to cities that will have the largest shadow. I’m in Charleston, South Carolina. The population of this city is supposed to triple due to all the people coming to see this event.

I’ve noticed numerous articles talking about the danger of staring at a solar eclipse without approved sunglasses. Since it’s the Thursday before the eclipse, I decided today that I should start looking into getting these glasses.

With over 1 million people visiting the state of South Carolina this weekend, they are sold out everywhere. I checked 15 stores within a 200 mile radius and they are nowhere to be found. Even Amazon is dry.

These articles are all over the place. Tens of thousands of stores nationwide have sold out of these products within weeks. Whoever makes these glasses has probably profited hundreds of million dollars in just a couple of weeks.

What if all these articles are just marketing copy driving people to buy a product so that the company behind the glasses can capitalize on this spectacular event? A lot of them are scary, filled with horror stories about what can happen to your eyes if you experience the eclipse without buying a pair of glasses. It feels like a perfectly executed marketing campaign.

I have not done any research to make a definitive claim on this, but it’s interesting to ponder the incentives of all parties involved. This type of collusion is not foreign to us.

Now I must ask the question: are they really necessary?

I’ve looked at the sun for 4-5 consecutive seconds before and the bright ball of light temporarily burned into my retina. It was nothing permanent. I’m sure if I looked at the sun for 2 minutes straight it would be much worse just like all the articles online mention.

I don’t believe the glasses are necessary. You don’t need to stare at the eclipse for 2 minutes straight. The experience is not limited to one spot in the sky. Everything around you will go dark. Nocturnal animals will come out as if it’s dusk. The temperature will drop. Everything will feel different for a moment.

I’ll glance at the sun for a couple seconds during the peak of the eclipse and I’ll take the rest of those 2 minutes to look around and enjoy the entire experience around me.