The laser protection eyewear market has a projected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.9% from 2018-2025, according to the 2017 Global Laser Safety Glasses Industry Research Report. Much of this growth and the industry’s production revenue of $233.56 million in 2015 has been a result of the U.S. government’s need for laser safety glasses. Let’s discuss this more by examining how the military and police use laser safety glasses.
Military Uses of Laser Safety Glasses
Lasers are used within the military in many different ways, including:
- Direct energy weapons
- Medical uses
- Guidance systems for missiles
- Firearm sights
- Holographic weapons
- Industrial (incl. contracted)
- Research and development (incl. contracted)
Laser safety glasses are needed in the military for defensive purposes against enemy laser attacks and for protective purposes with internal usage. Internal usage includes non-combat applications, such as: medical, industrial, weapons training, logistics, and research and development.Pilots (incl. civilians) and ground troops in the military are increasingly being attacked by laser weapons as laser technology advances and becomes more readily accessible to private citizens and governments around the world.For instance, an article on Hackaday called: “Chinese Laser AK-47: Myth or Reality?”, written on July 9th, 2018 by Steven Dufresne, highlights an innovative laser weapon, the likes of which the military or police might have to contend with in combat or on the streets:” Chinese company ZKZM Laser has produced the ZKZM-500 laser assault rifle which people are calling AK-47 because of its similar size, weighing in at three kilos (6.6 lbs). …powered by a rechargeable lithium battery… …a range of 800 meters (0.5 miles)… …a beam that is invisible to the eye… …able to burn human flesh if held in place long enough…”While this laser weapon is more of a novelty compared to military laser weapons, its capabilities show how destructive lasers can be. This is especially true when it comes to damaging the eye’s retina. Hence, the importance of the military stocking up and using the most innovative and protective laser safety glasses in combat and base operations.The proliferation of laser technology used in the military has led the U.S. Air Force, Army, Navy, Coast Guard, and Marines to seek out contracts for innovative Next Generation Eye Protection (NGEP) laser safety glasses, as an article found on Defense Systems called: “Services look for eyewear to protect against lasers”, written on July 21, 2016 by Kevin McCaney, explains:“The Air Force has awarded a $30 million contract to Teledyne Scientific & Imaging for the company’s Aircrew Laser Eye Protection (ALEP) spectacles, essentially glasses that protect against hazards and the potential threats from laser devices, whether in combat or in training. The Army, meanwhile, has issued a presolicitation for goggles that can protect against traditional threats such as ballistic fragments while adding protection against laser eye protection in a variety of light conditions.”Whether used to shield a pilot’s eyes from a direct laser weapon attack or for a military dentist’s patient to wear while getting their teeth worked on, laser safety glasses are an important piece of safety equipment in the military. And, in addition to protecting eyes from the bright damaging light emitted from lasers, the military increasingly needs laser safety glasses to protect against other damaging environmental threats and provide prescription functionality as well.
Police Uses of Laser Safety Glasses
The government also needs laser safety glasses for its police forces. When thinking about police and lasers, likely, the most common application people think of is the radar/laser gun that catches speeding vehicles. Lidar devices are the laser guns police use to detect speeds and identify vehicles; laser guns are more accurate than radar guns because they have a narrower beam.Besides the laser gun, mainly used to detect speeding vehicles, lasers are used by police for:
- Crowd control
- Drug detection
- Weapon sights
An article found on DrugFree.org called: “New Small Device Uses Laser to Help Police Quickly Identify Drugs”, written on February 1, 2012, explains how lasers are used for drug detection purposes:“The device can be used to scan small bags of drugs and gives police almost instant identification… …Police traditionally have needed to use chemical test kits to identify drugs. …The officer holds the sample bag against the device and presses a scan button. The device does a quick analysis and provides a result.” Another article found on The Blaze called: “‘Laser Dazzler’ Unveiled for Use by Law Enforcement – So How Does It Work?”, written on February 14th, 2012 by Liz Klimas, describes another way police use laser technology: “Last month, a non-lethal weapon – once reserved only for the military – was unveiled as a new tool for local law enforcement and the U.S. Coast Guard. …Laser dazzlers work by temporarily blinding a subject using a green laser with no risk of killing the person, unlike the risk associated with tasers and guns outfitted with rubber bullets. …At 40 meters, the laser can cause permanent damage.”This is the type of non-lethal laser weapon police use for crowd control; the taser is another laser weapon police often use in their day-to-day duties.The problem police have with lasers is when crowds or individuals aim lasers at them. So, not only do police need laser safety glasses for protection when using lasers themselves, but also for protection from people aiming lasers at them.An article found on USA Today called: “Man gets 14 years for pointing laser at helicopter”, written on March 12, 2014, by Bart Jansen, is a good example of this type of threat to police, as the article explains:“Sergio Rodriguez, 26, of Clovis, was sentenced Monday for pointing a laser at a Fresno police helicopter… …Laser strikes are a concern for airliners because they can temporarily blind a pilot while landing or taking off. The number of laser strikes against aircraft has climbed sharply in the last decade, reaching 3,960 last year.”
The military and police use laser technology in many different ways; their need for laser safety glasses is for both defensive and offensive reasons. They also have a need for laser safety glasses to be durable, multi-functional (protection from other harmful elements, prescription lenses, transition lenses), and practical for combat and field uses.As lasers technology grows and integrates with refined and new applications throughout all industries, having quality laser safety glasses will become even more vital for protection, defense, and productivity. Understanding this vital need, Phillips Safety Products has worked hard to design and manufacture one of the best-quality laser safety glasses on the market. Please contact us today to learn more.