Laser Safety Glasses When to Use

The importance of eye safety around lasers and laser-equipped machinery cannot be underestimated.

When to Use Laser Safety Glasses

Laser Safety Glasses When to UseLasers emit harmful radiation – in fact, the name “Laser” is an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulating Emission of Radiation. Even brief exposure to certain lasers can cause eye damage.

Depending on the type of laser in use, damage can occur to either the retina or the cornea and lens. Ultraviolet light in the 190-400 nanometer (nm) range and in the mid- to far-infrared range (1400-11,000 nm) can damage the skin, cornea, and lens. And danger exists even where heat does not. Do not be fooled into thinking that a laser that cannot burn your skin poses no risk to your eye; when exposure is between 400nm and 1400nm, the eye is 100,000 times more vulnerable to injury than the skin. Because the eye focuses light, it increases the potency of incoming light one hundred fold.

What’s more, it’s not just direct exposure that poses a hazard; some lasers give off diffused energy that can affect the human eye, and usage within the range of this energy – typically a radius of a few feet surrounding operation of the laser – requires the use of laser safety glasses.

So how do you determine when you should use protective eyewear? If exact usage conditions are not stipulated at your workstation or place of employment, the “err on the side of caution” rule applies; whenever you use the laser, or whenever you are present in the vicinity of a laser in use, wear protective eyewear of the proper ocular density (OD) and Visual Light Transmittance (VTL). If, however, you know the class to which your laser belongs, follow the guidelines below.

The ANSI Z136.1 Standard classifies lasers based on direct and diffuse eye hazards:

  • CLASS 1 – Non-hazardous, eyewear not required.
  • CLASS 1M – Eye safe visible laser (400-700nm) if used without magnifying optics. Eyewear not required unless used with magnifying optics.
  • CLASS 2 – Eye safe visible laser (400-700nm) safe within the blink reflex of 0.25 seconds, eyewear not required.
  • CLASS 2M – Eye safe visible laser (400-700nm) safe within the blink reflex of 0.25 seconds. Safety eyewear recommended.
  • CLASS 3R – Likely unsafe for intrabeam viewing. Maximum Permissible Exposure (MPE) is up to 5 times Class 2 limit for visible lasers or 5 times Class 1 limit for invisible lasers. Eye hazard; eyewear is recommended.
  • CLASS 3B – Eye hazardous for intrabeam viewing, limited diffuse hazard. Eye hazard; eyewear is recommended.
  • CLASS 4 – Eye and skin hazard for direct and diffuse exposure. Fire and burn hazard. Eye protection and other personal safety equipment is required.

Shop Laser Safety GlassesUse this only a guide, however, and be aware that laser classification by itself is not sufficient to determine whether or not to use laser safety glasses. OD and VTL of the laser will also affect the requirements for eye safety protection.

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Laser Safety Glasses When to Use

The importance of eye safety around lasers and laser-equipped machinery cannot be underestimated.

When to Use Laser Safety Glasses

Laser Safety Glasses When to UseLasers emit harmful radiation – in fact, the name “Laser” is an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulating Emission of Radiation. Even brief exposure to certain lasers can cause eye damage.

Depending on the type of laser in use, damage can occur to either the retina or the cornea and lens. Ultraviolet light in the 190-400 nanometer (nm) range and in the mid- to far-infrared range (1400-11,000 nm) can damage the skin, cornea, and lens. And danger exists even where heat does not. Do not be fooled into thinking that a laser that cannot burn your skin poses no risk to your eye; when exposure is between 400nm and 1400nm, the eye is 100,000 times more vulnerable to injury than the skin. Because the eye focuses light, it increases the potency of incoming light one hundred fold.

What’s more, it’s not just direct exposure that poses a hazard; some lasers give off diffused energy that can affect the human eye, and usage within the range of this energy – typically a radius of a few feet surrounding operation of the laser – requires the use of laser safety glasses.

So how do you determine when you should use protective eyewear? If exact usage conditions are not stipulated at your workstation or place of employment, the “err on the side of caution” rule applies; whenever you use the laser, or whenever you are present in the vicinity of a laser in use, wear protective eyewear of the proper ocular density (OD) and Visual Light Transmittance (VTL). If, however, you know the class to which your laser belongs, follow the guidelines below.

The ANSI Z136.1 Standard classifies lasers based on direct and diffuse eye hazards:

  • CLASS 1 – Non-hazardous, eyewear not required.
  • CLASS 1M – Eye safe visible laser (400-700nm) if used without magnifying optics. Eyewear not required unless used with magnifying optics.
  • CLASS 2 – Eye safe visible laser (400-700nm) safe within the blink reflex of 0.25 seconds, eyewear not required.
  • CLASS 2M – Eye safe visible laser (400-700nm) safe within the blink reflex of 0.25 seconds. Safety eyewear recommended.
  • CLASS 3R – Likely unsafe for intrabeam viewing. Maximum Permissible Exposure (MPE) is up to 5 times Class 2 limit for visible lasers or 5 times Class 1 limit for invisible lasers. Eye hazard; eyewear is recommended.
  • CLASS 3B – Eye hazardous for intrabeam viewing, limited diffuse hazard. Eye hazard; eyewear is recommended.
  • CLASS 4 – Eye and skin hazard for direct and diffuse exposure. Fire and burn hazard. Eye protection and other personal safety equipment is required.

Shop Laser Safety GlassesUse this only a guide, however, and be aware that laser classification by itself is not sufficient to determine whether or not to use laser safety glasses. OD and VTL of the laser will also affect the requirements for eye safety protection.

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Laser Safety Glasses When to Use

The importance of eye safety around lasers and laser-equipped machinery cannot be underestimated.

When to Use Laser Safety Glasses

Laser Safety Glasses When to UseLasers emit harmful radiation – in fact, the name “Laser” is an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulating Emission of Radiation. Even brief exposure to certain lasers can cause eye damage.

Depending on the type of laser in use, damage can occur to either the retina or the cornea and lens. Ultraviolet light in the 190-400 nanometer (nm) range and in the mid- to far-infrared range (1400-11,000 nm) can damage the skin, cornea, and lens. And danger exists even where heat does not. Do not be fooled into thinking that a laser that cannot burn your skin poses no risk to your eye; when exposure is between 400nm and 1400nm, the eye is 100,000 times more vulnerable to injury than the skin. Because the eye focuses light, it increases the potency of incoming light one hundred fold.

What’s more, it’s not just direct exposure that poses a hazard; some lasers give off diffused energy that can affect the human eye, and usage within the range of this energy – typically a radius of a few feet surrounding operation of the laser – requires the use of laser safety glasses.

So how do you determine when you should use protective eyewear? If exact usage conditions are not stipulated at your workstation or place of employment, the “err on the side of caution” rule applies; whenever you use the laser, or whenever you are present in the vicinity of a laser in use, wear protective eyewear of the proper ocular density (OD) and Visual Light Transmittance (VTL). If, however, you know the class to which your laser belongs, follow the guidelines below.

The ANSI Z136.1 Standard classifies lasers based on direct and diffuse eye hazards:

  • CLASS 1 – Non-hazardous, eyewear not required.
  • CLASS 1M – Eye safe visible laser (400-700nm) if used without magnifying optics. Eyewear not required unless used with magnifying optics.
  • CLASS 2 – Eye safe visible laser (400-700nm) safe within the blink reflex of 0.25 seconds, eyewear not required.
  • CLASS 2M – Eye safe visible laser (400-700nm) safe within the blink reflex of 0.25 seconds. Safety eyewear recommended.
  • CLASS 3R – Likely unsafe for intrabeam viewing. Maximum Permissible Exposure (MPE) is up to 5 times Class 2 limit for visible lasers or 5 times Class 1 limit for invisible lasers. Eye hazard; eyewear is recommended.
  • CLASS 3B – Eye hazardous for intrabeam viewing, limited diffuse hazard. Eye hazard; eyewear is recommended.
  • CLASS 4 – Eye and skin hazard for direct and diffuse exposure. Fire and burn hazard. Eye protection and other personal safety equipment is required.

Shop Laser Safety GlassesUse this only a guide, however, and be aware that laser classification by itself is not sufficient to determine whether or not to use laser safety glasses. OD and VTL of the laser will also affect the requirements for eye safety protection.

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Laser Safety Glasses When to Use

The importance of eye safety around lasers and laser-equipped machinery cannot be underestimated.

When to Use Laser Safety Glasses

Laser Safety Glasses When to UseLasers emit harmful radiation – in fact, the name “Laser” is an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulating Emission of Radiation. Even brief exposure to certain lasers can cause eye damage.

Depending on the type of laser in use, damage can occur to either the retina or the cornea and lens. Ultraviolet light in the 190-400 nanometer (nm) range and in the mid- to far-infrared range (1400-11,000 nm) can damage the skin, cornea, and lens. And danger exists even where heat does not. Do not be fooled into thinking that a laser that cannot burn your skin poses no risk to your eye; when exposure is between 400nm and 1400nm, the eye is 100,000 times more vulnerable to injury than the skin. Because the eye focuses light, it increases the potency of incoming light one hundred fold.

What’s more, it’s not just direct exposure that poses a hazard; some lasers give off diffused energy that can affect the human eye, and usage within the range of this energy – typically a radius of a few feet surrounding operation of the laser – requires the use of laser safety glasses.

So how do you determine when you should use protective eyewear? If exact usage conditions are not stipulated at your workstation or place of employment, the “err on the side of caution” rule applies; whenever you use the laser, or whenever you are present in the vicinity of a laser in use, wear protective eyewear of the proper ocular density (OD) and Visual Light Transmittance (VTL). If, however, you know the class to which your laser belongs, follow the guidelines below.

The ANSI Z136.1 Standard classifies lasers based on direct and diffuse eye hazards:

  • CLASS 1 – Non-hazardous, eyewear not required.
  • CLASS 1M – Eye safe visible laser (400-700nm) if used without magnifying optics. Eyewear not required unless used with magnifying optics.
  • CLASS 2 – Eye safe visible laser (400-700nm) safe within the blink reflex of 0.25 seconds, eyewear not required.
  • CLASS 2M – Eye safe visible laser (400-700nm) safe within the blink reflex of 0.25 seconds. Safety eyewear recommended.
  • CLASS 3R – Likely unsafe for intrabeam viewing. Maximum Permissible Exposure (MPE) is up to 5 times Class 2 limit for visible lasers or 5 times Class 1 limit for invisible lasers. Eye hazard; eyewear is recommended.
  • CLASS 3B – Eye hazardous for intrabeam viewing, limited diffuse hazard. Eye hazard; eyewear is recommended.
  • CLASS 4 – Eye and skin hazard for direct and diffuse exposure. Fire and burn hazard. Eye protection and other personal safety equipment is required.

Shop Laser Safety GlassesUse this only a guide, however, and be aware that laser classification by itself is not sufficient to determine whether or not to use laser safety glasses. OD and VTL of the laser will also affect the requirements for eye safety protection.

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