Holmium YAG lasers are fairly new to the medical field, but their popularity is growing extremely fast. This is because they offer several advantages over other types of lasers for certain procedures. One of the big ones is that they work well in fluid-filled environments, so they’re perfect for operations involving parts that can’t be drained of blood. The same feature makes them good for dental procedures since they work even while saliva is present.
What Makes a Holmium Laser Different?
One of the main differences is that they can be used for more applications. Two power levels are in common use: a low-power laser and a high-power one. The low-power version is good for office use, where it can be used for procedures involving the head, neck, or small joints. Operations that require more power are done with the higher-strength version and are more typically performed in a hospital setting.
The underlying difference, however, is what makes it important for health care personnel to know what type of glasses are needed for use with a holmium laser. This difference is the wavelength that is produced by the device. Laser-attenuating safety glasses are made according to the wavelengths that need to be blocked, so it’s important to get ones that are specifically made for use with holmium lasers.
What Wavelength Does a Holmium Laser Produce?
A holmium laser operates with a wavelength of 2100nm. This is a type of light that is outside of the visual spectrum.
Which Glasses Should I Choose?
Since holmium laser light is invisible, the lenses used to block it can appear almost clear as well. However, they must be made to block light in the 2100nm range. They also should have an optical density of at least 7. This is a high optical density, meaning that it blocks a large amount of the light in the targeted range. However, since visible light isn’t targeted, the glasses can let plenty of useful illumination through.
Who Needs Holmium Laser Safety Glasses?
The obvious answer is that all personnel who work with or around active holmium lasers need protection. However, thanks to the fast rise of this machine’s popularity, many health care workers may not even realize that they’re being exposed to a new kind of light. In busy environments, it’s not unusual for information that should be passed around to end up forgotten about regardless of an institution’s policy on such matters.
This is especially true in dentist’s offices, where it is unfortunately common for hygienists and assistants to work near machines that they don’t really understand. Usually this is no problem since these people won’t be operating that equipment, but in the case of lasers and other radiation-producing machinery, more care needs to be taken. If the office doesn’t immediately provide the needed information, it’s up to individual workers to take it upon themselves to find the necessary details.
Because of situations like these, your first step in ensuring your safety should be to find out whether a new machine that has arrived at your workplace is a holmium laser. Don’t accept vague answers like “it’s our new laser” as identification. Ask specifically what kind of laser it is if your supervisor’s original answer isn’t sufficiently detailed. They should have no problem telling you. Usually, supervisors are vague merely because they don’t see the importance of the details to someone who isn’t directly using a machine, not because they think it’s a secret.
Once you know what kind of laser might be in operation near you, you can find the right kind of protective glasses to wear. As noted, for a holmium laser, you need glasses that block (“attenuate”) light at 2100nm. These glasses must also be made so that they block entry of the light from the sides as well as the front. They also need an optical density of at least 7.
Which Frame Shape is Best for Eye Protection Against Laser Light?
The safest eyewear for protection against holmium laser light isn’t glasses, but instead, goggles. Our goggles have solid tops, bottoms, and sides – only the front contains lenses you can see through. This is the safest because it totally blocks most of the points of entry for the light, leaving only what you really need to get the job done.
Eyeglasses, however, are fine for most personnel. They should still have wide, solid temples that stop light from infiltrating from the side, which is second only to the front when it comes to exposure. The open tops and bottoms of laser-protective eyeglasses aren’t a problem in most situations. These openings also allow for plenty of airflow around the eyes. Most people prefer eyeglasses thanks to the increased comfort when compared to goggles.
Is it Possible to Get Stylish Anti-Laser Glasses?
It certainly is! We offer several glasses suitable for protecting your eyes from holmium laser emissions, and some of the frames definitely qualify as being on the stylish side. All of our glasses do have the thick temples, but our Model 808 line is made with a sleeker look than you’d find with purely utilitarian pairs. This line comes in black and silver, white, and red. While we doubt that you’d want to wear safety glasses to a club, you’ll definitely be the talk of the lab with these flashier and sleeker pairs.
Whether you want fancy glasses or just want to get the job done, we have the holmium laser safety eyewear for you. We also carry safety glasses for other types of lasers, so you can cover all of your needs with one stop. If you’d like help choosing eyewear, just contact us. We’ll make sure you’re properly protected.