Class Claims Amazon Sold Shoddy Eclipse Glasses, Partially Blinding Them

The moon almost eclipses the sun during a near total solar eclipse as seen from Salem, Ore. on Aug. 21. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (CN) — In a federal class action,  two South Carolinians claim they were partially blinded by watching the Great American Eclipse through defective Solar Eclipse Glasses they bought from Amazon.com.

In their Tuesday lawsuit, Thomas Corey Payne and Kayla Harris say Amazon did not notify them that the eclipse glasses it sold them were defective. Now, they say, they suffer from central blind spots, impaired vision, discomfort and dizziness.

Amazon bought 10 million of the 37 million Solar Eclipse Glasses manufactured by American Paper Optics, according to a July 7 USA Today story cited in the complaint. Two days before the Aug. 21 eclipse, Amazon issued an email warning about the glasses.

But Payne, who bought a three-pack of the glasses on Aug. 1, says that Amazon’s “email ‘recall’ was tragically too little, too late.”

American Paper Optics is not a party to the lawsuit.

“(M)any Eclipse Glasses sold by Amazon were sold in packs of 3 and 20, and distributed to individuals who never received a warning email,” the complaint states. “Notwithstanding Amazon’s woefully inadequate email notification, any and all users of Eclipse Glasses were subjected to unreasonable and foreseeable risks of severe and permanent eye injury due to the negligence of Amazon.”

Payne and Harris seek class certification and damages. They do not know what size the class may be, but says it can be found through discovery of Amazon’s sales records.

The total eclipse of Aug. 21 was one of the most viewed in history. Nearly half of America’s 323 million people watched it in some way, 20 million of them from the area of totality, according to the lawsuit.

Looking directly at the sun can permanently damage the retina and can cause blindness called solar retinopathy. Eclipses are particularly dangerous because the infrared radiation continues, but the pupils of the eye do not contract, due to the darkness.

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists reported that symptoms typically show up approximately 12 hours after the viewing event, including blurred vision, central blind spot in one or both eyes, increased sensitivity to light, distorted vision and changes in perception of color, according to the complaint.

Short-term issues may include solar keratitis, similar to sunburn on the cornea, which can cause eye pain or light sensitivity within 24 hours.

Amazon did not respond to a request comment.

Payne and Harris are represented by James Ward Jr., with McGowan, Hood & Felder, in Mt. Pleasant, S.C. In addition to class certification, they seek restitution, an injunction and damages for negligence, negligent misrepresentation, unjust enrichment, breach of warranty, negligent failure to warn, deceptive trade and consumer law violations.

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