It may seem counterintuitive, but laser light can harm your eyesight even if it is invisible. This can be a confusing concept to grasp, as many people assume that if they can’t see it, it can’t hurt them. However, the truth is that invisible laser radiation can be even more hazardous than visible radiation because it can cause damage without being noticed.
Eyes are specialized and sensitive sensory organs that are unable to recover from certain types of injuries. Among these permanent injuries is retinal burning, which can be caused by exposure to harmful light radiation. This is particularly concerning since the cornea of your eye directs incoming light to the retina, making it especially vulnerable to damage.
UNDERSTANDING THE DANGERS OF INVISIBLE LASER RADIATION TO YOUR EYESIGHT
The human eye’s rods and cones are responsible for detecting and transmitting signals from light within the visible spectrum, which spans wavelengths between 400 and 700 nanometers. While lasers can operate within or outside of this range, the danger they pose to your eyesight has more to do with their power than their operating wavelength.
Laser radiation poses a threat to your retina not because of the colors it creates but rather due to the power of the beam. A high-powered laser beam can generate intense heat in a fraction of a second. If the beam, or even a reflection of it, enters your eye through the cornea, it can burn your retina so quickly that you may not feel any pain right away.
The retina is a complex structure filled with neurons that light must pass through to reach your rods and cones. These neurons, commonly referred to as nerve cells, transmit visual information to your brain, allowing you to see. Burning these neurons, whether from direct or reflected laser radiation, can cause permanent damage because medicine currently lacks effective methods to repair them.
The cornea acts like a magnifying glass, focusing light onto the retina. A laser beam that can burn your skin will cause even more damage to your retina after passing through your cornea, and it can also cause a burn to your cornea itself.
Furthermore, scattered radiation from some powerful lasers can also be harmful to your eyes, even if the direct beam is not hitting your eyes. This scattered radiation is similar to the light that fills a dark room when you shine a flashlight on one of the walls, and it can still cause damage or destruction to your eyes. Although the scattered radiation contains only a small percentage of the power of the laser beam, it can be enough to cause serious harm.
PROTECT YOUR VISION IN ANY LASER ENVIRONMENT
In the context of laser radiation and physics, the way we perceive “light” based on our personal experiences with vision can be quite different. Here, light can refer to any radiation in the electromagnetic spectrum that can be emitted in a focused beam capable of generating heat. While this definition still does not fully encompass the complexity of laser radiation, it can be helpful to consider lasers in this way when it comes to choosing the appropriate personal protective equipment to guard against their potentially harmful beams.
Ensuring laser safety is crucial when working with lasers, as even a small mistake can result in permanent blindness. It is important to understand the risks and to always wear proper personal protective equipment, such as laser safety glasses. Removing them, even in the presence of an invisible beam, can have dire consequences.
To provide utmost protection to your eyes from the harmful effects of laser radiation, check out Phillips Safety collection of laser safety glasses. These glasses are made with high-quality materials and feature lenses that are specifically designed to block out specific wavelengths of laser light. Phillips Safety’s laser safety glasses are available in a range of styles and designs to meet the needs of various industries and applications.