Lasers present a variety of hazards to vision, so it makes sense to wear glasses that block their powerful light. To get the benefits of this precaution, however, it’s important to select the correct laser safety glasses for the job.
That’s because there are several types of lasers and they have different wavelengths and strength levels. Laser safety glasses are made to attenuate specific types of input, so they must be properly matched in order to work.
These are some of the most common high-powered lasers that people come across. They can be strong enough to vaporize cancers like melanoma or delicate enough to make tiny incisions in the eyes. Clearly, someone who works with or around such equipment needs protection in order to avoid being wounded by accidental exposure.
Diagnostic lasers aren’t as obviously dangerous, but like many things, high levels of exposure are far more hazardous than normal levels. This makes it so that doctors, nurses, and technicians are more at risk than patients. Patients get a single test every so often, but the medical personnel at the testing center work with lasers all day long. Even so, patients often need protection as well. This prevents an accidental strike to the eyes from causing damage.
Protection from medical lasers takes many forms. For patients, a pair of opaque, laser-proof glasses usually does the job. The patient doesn’t need to see during most testing or surgery, so simply blocking all light eliminates the risk quickly and inexpensively.
Technicians, of course, need to be able to see what they’re doing. A number of solutions exist that provide safety without compromising clear vision. Typically, goggles or glasses are worn that are calibrated to block the light spectrum of the laser without interfering with the transmission of other, safe, light. Therefore, it’s important to match the glasses to the type of laser being used.
In medical facilities, there is often a laser safety officer (LSO) who will know the details of which protection goes with which device. However, if none is present, the device’s safety manual should have the necessary information.
Most of these aren’t dangerous in the same way that surgical lasers are, but precautions are needed just the same. Being hit in the eyes with a pointer can cause momentary blindness in the same way that looking at a camera’s flash does. For this reason, the effect is called “flash blindness.” If the affected person is driving a vehicle, walking in a dangerous area, or even flying a plane, a deadly accident can result. Pilots often wear anti-laser glasses because of this even though it is now illegal to shine laser pointers at planes.
Laser safety glasses meant to protect from pointers are usually made to stop red, green, or blue light. These light colors are the ones most commonly used for pointers. If you don’t know in advance what color of laser pointers will be in use, try a multi-wavelength pair of protective glasses. They can stop two or even all three of the most common pointer light colors.
In most cases, laser light is intended to be limited to a specific area. This is especially true in medical settings, where unprotected people may be walking around outside the room. If the room has glass windows, such a situation can present dangers to these passers-by. Add laser-blocking filters to the glass to keep the laser light within the designated area.
Some specialized lasers use uncommon wavelengths, so it can be hard to find off-the-shelf protective solutions. Fortunately, glasses and goggles can be custom made to address these situations. Contact us to learn about our specialty goggle offerings and get eye protection that works with your equipment.
Not all laser safety involves blocking the light. Safety measures for medical lasers also include letting people know when a laser is in use, posting signs, following proper handling procedures, and other common sense practices. For laser pointers, basics include avoiding shining the light toward people or your own eyes, being sure to turn the devices off when not in use, and being careful in general.
Even though these other measures do much to reduce the risk of exposure to laser light, it’s important to remember that the use of protective devices like glasses is an essential part of any safe-handling program. It’s also important to remember that these glasses aren’t always interchangeable. Make sure that you are always using the ones that are meant to block the light wavelength and strength of the laser device in question. If there is any doubt, don’t use the laser until you can be sure that you have the right eyewear.
Laser safety glasses typically have the wavelengths they protect against printed on the temple. This can be matched to the wavelength stated on the machine or in its manual to ensure that the glasses in question are the correct ones to use. If the information has worn off of the glasses and there are multiple laser devices they might go with, discard them and get another pair. This will ensure that full protection is achieved at all times.
For more information about using laser safety glasses or choosing the right ones for the job, just contact us or visit our site. We’ll be glad to discuss your needs and inform you about all of the gear that can reduce the risk of harm from laser exposure.