It goes without saying that using high power burning lasers involves some inherent risks if used improperly or carelessly. The most important way to minimize this small risk and ensure the safety of yourself and any spectators (no matter the application you’re using the laser for), is wavelength (beam color) specific laser safety eyewear. These come in a variety of styles, some that will fit over regular glasses, others with a more sport design, and others that are straight forward and functional. Making the most of a powerful laser beam means taking precautions to protect your eyes, let’s take a look at how laser safety goggles work and why sun glasses or other UV protective lenses will not protect the eyes from beam exposure.
1. Wavelength (Color) Specific Protection
If you’ve been browsing for laser pointers or have some basic knowledge of the way in which the light spectrum works, every color that we can see has a specific wavelength (or frequency) of light which signifies the actual length of the wave itself. Low wavelengths are long and Ultraviolet, such as 355nm UV lasers which are invisible to the human eye as they do not fall within the visible light spectrum. Then we have the visible light spectrum that we can see and is the reason that we can see individual colors and color combinations like green, red, blue, yellow, purple, and so on. Then there are the high (short) wavelengths which are Infrared 800nm-2200nm, these are also invisible to the human eye.
The way in which laser safety goggles protect our eyes is that they are tuned to block a specific wavelength of light. For example, if you’re using a 200mW green laser pointer at 532nm, a pair of laser goggles that protect 880nm will not do you any good, as they are designed to only block 880nm and can actually make exposure worse. So, be sure that any laser your looking at includes laser goggles or you purchase a pair that covers the specific wavelength, or eye-wear that covers a range of wavelengths, for example from 450nm-800nm, which will cover all the most common visible laser beam colors. This is something sunglasses do not do.
2. When Do I Need To Use Laser Safety Protection?
There is some open debate on this issue, some experts say not until you reach a burning laser threshold, others say you should always use laser eyewear, and others still say it depends on the design of the laser (ie. if there are IR filters or not). So, as a general rule, it’s a good idea that when using a high power hand held laser that can light matches and pop balloons you incorporate laser goggles. If you’re outdoors at night doing some star gazing or aiming the laser away from yourself and reflective surfaces, then you may not need them all the time, however, whenever doing burning laser experiments or other applications indoors and at close range, you should always use laser goggles. This not only protects your eyes but also allows you to actually work with the beam because you can look at your beam and target and use it more effectively and safely, so it’s a win win. Even with laser goggles though, never look directly at the beam or point it at yourself or another person.
3. “But Come On, I Don’t Need Laser Safety Equipment”
This could not be further from the truth when using high power class III and burning class IV lasers. The risks seem small as hey it’s just a laser pointer right? But the reality is that these high power lasers are not toys, they are tools that can be used responsibly or irresponsibly. Far from the old key chain lasers sold by street vendors, the powerful diodes incorporated into many of today’s lasers warrant the use of laser safety equipment in nearly all circumstances, and all circumstances indoors. Let’s say you’re doing a light experiment with an interested adolescent, you want to not only protect their eyes but also instill in their minds the importance of taking precautions when using new and powerful tools. Lasers are very cool, but using them safely is even cooler.
The best burning lasers on today’s market will include at least a single pair of safety goggles in the kit or package. If the laser you’re looking at does not include a pair, be sure to add them to your order to ensure you can use the beam with no concerns for latent eye exposure from reflective surfaces. Any mW power of lasers can warrant safety goggles, typically only a 5mW will not need one, or anything less than 50mW, unless of course you’ll only be using the laser indoors then you can consider it. Be sure to know what the wavelength (nanometer) color of any laser your using or looking at is and protect your eyes accordingly.
For the best in Laser Safety Goggles, look no further than nearly 15 years of expertise in all things laser technology. From traditional presentation pointers, to high power burning lasers, to laser safety eye wear and lab dpss laser systems, be sure to do some research and look for warranty periods over minimum 12 months. Ask questions if you have them and think about the safety and long term benefits of using lasers properly. Biglasers.com 877-256-6513