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Eclipse glasses
A boy wearing protective glasses watches a partial solar eclipse from Arlington, Va., in 2014. (NASA Photo / Bill Ingalls)

A South Carolina couple has filed a lawsuit against Amazon, claiming that they suffered eye damage even though they used protective glasses sold through the online retailer.

In the lawsuit, filed on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Charleston, S.C., Thomas Corey Payne and his fiancee, Kayla Harris, say that the glasses were defective and that Amazon was negligent in allowing them to be sold. They also accuse Amazon of unfair and deceptive trade practices.

They’re asking the court to grant the lawsuit class-action status, which could let other customers across the country join in the effort to seek as-yet unspecified damages. They’re also asking for a jury trial.

Amazon declined to comment, due to the fact that litigation was under way.

The legal action comes a little more than a week after the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse, and a little more than two weeks after Amazon sent out a highly publicized email warning customers about potentially unsafe glasses.

Eclipse glasses were in high demand before this month’s big event, because they’re the preferred protective measure to guard against eye injury when gazing at the partially eclipsed sun.

The problem was that some glasses were being marketed even though they didn’t offer enough protection. The American Astronomical Society said some vendors were even faking the ISO labels that are supposed to certify that the glasses meet international standards, apparently in an unscrupulous effort to cash in on the eclipse demand.

In response to those concerns, Amazon emailed notices to a large number of customers in mid-August, warning them that the glasses they bought were not certified as safe to its satisfaction. Amazon told those customers not to use the glasses – and promised refunds.

Amazon said it sent the notices “out of an abundance of caution.”

In their lawsuit, Payne and Harris say they received no such notice about the three-pack of glasses they purchased. They say they wore the glasses they bought through Amazon to watch the eclipse from South Carolina, and began to experience pain and discomfort, headaches, watery eyes and other symptoms later that day.

“Thereafter, both plaintiffs began to see dark spots in their line of vision, suffered vision impairment, including blurriness, a central blind spot, increased sensitivity, changes in perception of color, and distorted vision,” the lawsuit says.

The suit calls Amazon’s attempt to warn customers “woefully inadequate.”

In addition to compensation and damages, the plaintiffs are seeking a judgment that would force Amazon to fund a medical monitoring program for anyone who becomes part of the class-action suit.

The lawsuit doesn’t mention who manufactured the glasses at issue, which could be an important point for deciding liability. Typically, eclipse glasses were marketed by third-party sellers on Amazon’s website. We’ve reached out to the couple’s attorney and will pass along any updates.

Read more: Check out the PDF file of the federal lawsuit

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