How do I Choose Laser Safety Glasses?
Eye safety is important when working with any type of laser, because without proper glasses, you can permanently damage your eyes or lose your eyesight in an instant. As a child, you might remember playing with the laser pointers, constantly being reminded to not aim it at each other’s eyes because it could damage them. As true as this can be, there are other types of lasers that can cause far more damage.
Lasers are a very powerful form of light which emits a single wavelength and then amplifies, focuses, and directs it in one direction. Not all lasers require safety glasses, as anything from class 2 lasers and down are considered safe without eyewear. If you operate a laser from class 3R to 4, safety glasses are required. Many lasers in the medical and industrial field are in the higher class because of the immense power needed for their tasks.
Before picking out the right pair of laser safety glasses, remember that all laser types are potentially harmful to your eyes, so be sure to have the right pair of safety glasses when operating lasers or in the view of laser beams. If you are in need of safety glasses, it is important to know the different factors that go into shopping for the right pair. You need to know the laser’s wavelength, power level, and the Visible Light Transmission(VLT) required in order to match a filter of your liking to your glasses.
How to Select the Right Laser Safety Glasses
When choosing your safety glasses, the most important thing to know is the laser’s wavelength, which can be located in the manual. Depending on the manufacturer, the wavelength can also be inscribed on a plate mounted to the machine. Lasers can have wavelengths from any region of the spectrum, the reason why a laser can either be visible or invisible; the three regions being:
- Ultraviolet: 100-400nm
- Visible: 440-750nm
- Infrared (invisible): 750-1mm
When looking for the wavelength, you will need both the minimum and maximum parts the wavelengths from the laser, which is usually given in nanometers (nm). This can range from 288nm, to as high as 10,600nm, and requires laser safety glasses to have a variety of different OD for lenses.
The next consideration is the power of the laser, as this will determine the OD required. OD blocks a certain amount of wavelength in the glasses from reaching your eyes. You can find the laser’s rating in the manual as well, but some companies will also provide a warning sign separate from the manual that will provide both wavelength and OD rating.
Once you have found the laser’s wavelength and OD rating, you need to decide the VLT percentage required for your laser safety glasses.VLT is the amount of light that passes through a laser filter, as every pair of safety glasses may have a different VLT level made specifically for that pair. If you want higher visibility while looking at a laser beam, look for a pair with a higher percentage.
In some instances with lasers with visible light, a filter can block the beam that you need to see. If you are working with lasers that need to be seen, you can look for a pair with a low percentage of VLT in order to have a clear vision of the laser beam. It is important to know that the higher the OD in the glasses, the darker your lens will be, which can affect the VLT level of the pair.
When choosing your laser safety glasses, you have the option between polycarbonate and glass filters. Polycarbonate filters are a popular choice as they are lightweight, cost friendly, and suited for mid-to-low power density laser applications. What is different between polycarbonate and glass filters, is that glass can protect from several different power levels, while polycarbonate cannot. Glass filters typically have higher absorption, higher VLT, and are better for higher powered lasers. You also have the option to have your laser safety glasses made in your prescription, as most glass laser filters and some polycarbonate lenses are able to be made with single vision or lined bifocal lenses in either glass or polycarbonate material.
How Do I Search for Laser Safety Glasses?
Once you know the laser’s wavelengths, power level, OD rating, and VLT requirements, you then have to input this information in the necessary fields on our website and the search engine will narrow down the choices, and show you the ones you need. If you are having trouble finding this information on your own, please feel free to call us. If you don’t know the wavelength of the laser, please have the make and model number of your equipment, and if that is not available, please know how the laser is being used and what you are doing with it.
If you are working with medical lasers, most require an OD of 3 or greater, while most industrial lasers, usually require an OD of 5 or greater. No matter the material or type of lens you choose, it is important to wear the right pair of safety glasses. Wearing laser glasses for another machine can be very unsafe and without the right requirements, you can permanently damage your eyes. Eye safety is a priority for us, regardless of the topic, so if you have any questions about laser safety goggles or any other products we offer, feel free to contact one of our professionals.