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Thousands flock to Clark Planetarium for eclipse glasses

SALT LAKE CITY — Thousands of Utah residents are flocking to Clark Planetarium this week to buy solar eclipse glasses to make sure they get safe ones following a recall issued by online retailer Amazon.

The planetarium has seen a huge spike in sales of its $2 glasses this week after the University of Utah's Moran Eye Center on Sunday told people to throw out the glasses the center gave away this month because of the recall, said Rob Morris, Clark Planetarium's director of operations.

People can keep glasses with a Clark Planetarium label, eye center officials said.

Lines snaked around the block outside the planetarium Wednesday morning. It sold about 21,000 glasses Tuesday and was on pace to match or exceed that total Wednesday, Morris said.

Several school districts and hospitals also purchased the faulty glasses in bulk, adding to the surge in demand ahead of Monday's solar eclipse, he said.

"We're trying to supply as much as we can of the certified, safe glasses," Morris said Wednesday. "But we're about to run out too. We'll probably make it through today, but we probably won't have much for tomorrow."

The Moran Eye Center gave away or sold 1,600 of the glasses that were recalled, said Elizabeth Neff, spokeswoman for the center. The center also gave out 1,000 glasses from the planetarium that can still be used.

The letter the center received from Amazon on Saturday said: "Amazon has not received confirmation from the supplier of your order that they sourced the item from a recommended manufacturer. We recommend that you do not use this product to view the sun or the eclipse."

Amazon didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

Utah isn't the only state dealing with fallout from the recall. A public library in eastern Illinois also had to tell people not to use solar eclipse glasses that were given away earlier this month because of the Amazon recall.

Tim MacVicar rode his bike to Clark Planetarium from his home in Cottonwood Heights to buy four pair of glasses for his wife and their children. MacVicar said he was planning to get glasses anyway and decided to go to the planetarium after hearing the glasses there were safe.

Emily Miller drove 25 miles from her home in Layton to buy 10 eclipse sunglasses at the planetarium for her and her grandchildren. They plan to watch the eclipse together Monday at their home.

Some retail stores near Miller's house were selling glasses, she said, but the recall made her leery of what types they were selling.

"I don't trust them," Miller said.

NASA and the American Astronomical Society advise watchers to use glasses or other solar filters from recommended manufacturers. Looking at the sun or an eclipse using other glasses could result in vision loss or permanent blindness.