Protecting Your Vision with Laser Safety Glasses
If you’re reading this, you’re probably familiar not only with the power and precision of laser technology but also with its medical, research or industrial applications. But did you know that it takes only .25 seconds of direct, unprotected exposure to cause thermal and/or photochemical damage to your eyes? Or that you may not become aware of the damage until later, after you notice vision degradation? Or that almost all laser incident eye injuries are easily preventable with the use of proper eyewear?
The Causes of Laser-Induced Eye Injury
According to the University of Maryland at Baltimore, incorrect eyewear selection, eyewear failure and, most inexplicably, failure to use available eyewear are among the leading causes of laser incident eye injury. You may have no control over equipment malfunctions or improper servicing and restoration processes, but you can certainly protect your eyesight by employing correct protective eyewear as your last and most critical line of defense.
Eye Anatomy and Vision Loss
Eyes are, of course, singularly precious and uniquely vulnerable organs. In order to absorb light wavelengths dictated by natural selection, human eyes developed the most transparent — and least protective — of outer layers, the cornea. So, as may well be imagined, exposure to laser light in the near-infrared and near-ultraviolet range may damage the cornea and, directly behind it, the lens. Even more debilitating damage occurs when the eye’s lens focuses 400nm to 1400nm wavelength collimated (parallel) laser rays on a tiny area of the retina.
Safety Glass Lens Design and Standards
Laser safety glasses deploy either glass substrate or, far more often, polycarbonate lenses. Polycarbonate lenses encase absorptive dyes (calibrated to filter out specific wavelengths depending on equipment and application) and are hardened to resist breakage and prevent minor scratches from compromising protection. All certified laser safety glasses meet ANSI (American National Standards Institute) Z136 standards and/or CE EN 207 European Laser Safety Standards and are indelibly stamped accordingly.
Safety Glass Frame and Style Options
Unsurprisingly, as the technology of eye protection has advanced, so have frame styles and options. Depending on your requirements and preferences, frames may fit over existing prescription glasses, wrap-around for maximum peripheral vision, accommodate insertion of prescription lenses or even incorporate straps, gaskets and defogging vents for sleek, sealant goggle-like protection.
Work with the Experts
As indicated, specific equipment and applications call for specific protection, so it’s highly recommended that you consult with your organization’s laser safety officer and contact us to ensure you correctly select the protective eyewear on which your sight depends.
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