Laser pointers shine a focused beam of high intensity light, usually red, and are commonly used in corporate and classroom presentations to highlight specific points or images on media screens. Looking directly at the light beam of a laser pointer can cause temporary vision loss and even permanent damage to the retina. This was learned after children and young adults began purchasing laser pointers and using them as toys.
Also, laser pointers began to be used as sighting devices for paintball guns. Because of the potential for eye injuries, it is now mandated that laser pointers carry warning labels mentioning possible retinal damage. It is advised not pointing lasers near the eye or near reflective surfaces
Misconceptions About Laser Pointers Dispelled
Reports of handheld lasers directed at aircraft are on the rise, and there’s reason to be alarmed. Still, experts say there’s little need to fear that this will damage pilots’ eyesight. Rather, the real danger lies in the distraction caused by the dazzle from the beam.
“Obviously, if such a distraction occurs at a critical time, such as during landing, the result could be devastating,” wrote John Marshall, from the Institute of Ophthalmology at University College London, and colleagues, in an editorial published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology in April 2016.
Most laser pointers have an upper limit of 1 milliwatt (mW) of energy, which is not enough to damage the eyes. However, some individuals have found ways to access laser devices intended only for commercial use. These “class 4” lasers have energy outputs of up to 6000 mW and are capable of causing irreversible eye damage if directed into the eye from a distance of up to several meters.
But when directed at aircraft and helicopters, the beam must travel hundreds to thousands of meters through both the atmosphere and the cockpit canopy or windshield, which limits its power to damage the retina.
Very important: Always make sure you discuss and make decisions about your eye care based upon a formal appointment with your optician.
For more information and to book and eye examination please contact us:
McKenna & Scott Pinelands
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