Are you wearing the correct Laser protective eyewear? Eyewear is THE most important piece of personal protective equipment needed by those operating lasers. Most laser accidents happen because protective eyewear was simply not worn, it was damaged, or most commonly, the incorrect protective eyewear was being used.
Not all Laser Protective Eyewear is created equal
They must be labeled with the same wavelength that is emitted by the laser (i.e. 755 nm, 810 nm, 1064 nm, etc). and the proper Optical Density (OD) number (i.e. OD 1, OD5, OD 6, etc) recommended by the manufacturer.
OD is a measure of how much the laser radiation is reduced when it passes through the protective eyewear. A higher OD number provides more protection; a lower OD number provides less. (i.e. OD = 1 reduces exposure by 10 times (101), OD = 2 reduces exposure by 100 times (102), OD = 3 reduces exposure by 1,000 times (103 ), etc..)
I cannot tell you how many times I have walked into a facility and the operators were simply unaware that the protective eyewear they were using was completely inadequate.
Why is it so important?
Protective eyewear is needed for everyone within the laser controlled area, with no exceptions. The eye is the most critical organ, even more so than skin, to vulnerability to lasers. Laser radiation in the wavelength range of 400 nm to 1400 nm is especially hazardous to the eye because these wavelengths have the potential to be focused onto the retina and create permanent vision loss at the point of contact. Light travels at 186,000 miles per second and our aversion response is only 0.25 seconds, so basically we cannot blink fast enough.
Laser Protective Eyewear Recommendations:
- Use the protective eyewear with the appropriate wavelength & OD required by the manufacturer
- Ensure everyone within the laser controlled area is wearing their eyewear prior to operating laser
- Ensure a pair of eyewear is located outside the entry door for use in case of an emergency entry
- Inspect eyewear prior to use to ensure its integrity, free of cracks, discolouration or coating damage
- Ensure eyewear fits snugly around face
- Do not use abrasive or harsh chemicals to clean eyewear
- Keep eyewear in an opaque case when not in use, coating can be degraded by sunlight exposure
- Do not look into the beam or specular reflection even when wearing protective eyewear
Most of all, please remember that nothing can be done to repair or reverse a laser retinal injury. So regardless of the situation, comfort level, or stubbornness – please ensure everyone is wearing their protective eyewear!