Laser points range from a practical tool to a fun toy. They are available everywhere and appear as a safe, unassuming device. What harm could a little pocket-sized light do to a person? The reality is that, under the right conditions, they can cause severe damage to eyesight.
The Power of a Laser Pointer
The damage a laser pointer can do depends on two factors: its power and how long it is shined in an eye. The higher the power of the device, the smaller the time margin for safe exposure. This is especially important when using pointers over five milliwatts. Many laser pointers are not properly labeled and are often sold as toys for children.
What Do I Do After Being Blinded by a Laser Pointer?
When a laser pointer shines on a person’s eye, they will initially notice a bright flash. If possible, you or someone with you should look at the device and its rating to determine if a medical assessment is needed.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for classifying light-producing devices. Regulations outline different classes, with a class 2 being safer than higher number classes. Most laser pointers produce one to five milliwatts, which falls into subclass 3A. Those that are on the high end can cause damage while those on the lower end are not likely to cause permanent harm.
Safe Laser Pointer Practices
The following tips will help you use a laser pointer safely
- Always angle the laser pointer away from your face or the faces of others
- Never look directly into the light-producing end of a laser pointer
- Never use a laser pointer when driving or operating heavy machinery
- Never point a laser toward streets or high-traffic areas
- Be aware of nearby reflective surfaces like mirrors or metal objects
Contact Grosinger, Spigelman & Grey Michigan’s Leading Eye Care Physicians for an appointment if you have questions about your vision, are in need of a comprehensive eye exam or experience a change in eyesight.
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