Do you need Laser Safety Glasses with all lasers?

Depending on what type of lasers that you’re going to be using, there are different safety glasses available to you.

For example if you’re going to be dealing with higher classifications of lasers, then you might need to invest in more expensive safety glasses than normal.

Understanding which safety glasses you need

It can be extremely difficult to fully understand which set of safety glasses that you need. There’s a lot of terminologies that are generally confusing, so I’ll run through some of these with you just to clarify that everything is crystal clear.

Firstly, I’d better point out that if you’re looking for a set of safety glasses for your laser pointer, you shouldn’t worry. That is, if you’re using a laser pointer that’s within the regulations of the US (5 mW), Europe (generally 1-2 mW) and the United Kingdom (1 mW). If you do have a laser pointer with a higher power output that 5 mW, then please remember to be careful.

The main reason that you’d need safety glasses is if you’re working around Class 3B and Class 4 Lasers. If you don’t really know what that means, have a look at the laser classification guide.

In all honesty, the likelihood is that you will have an LSO (Laser Safety Officer) at your place of work. If you get a chance, you can always talk to them about this kind of stuff. But if you don’t, then I’ll fill you in on a few details about which kind of safety glasses you might need. But beware; I’m a massive nerd and I do like to waffle on a bit.

Is there a one fit all set of glasses?

Unfortunately, the wavelengths of light that lasers output vary greatly. This means that there are no one set of safety glasses that will work for all different wavelengths. The regular nm (nanometers) can vary from hundreds to tens of thousands in regular devices.

How do I know which safety glasses I need?

The best way is to check! Any device that you’re using should actually state the nanometers of your device. It should also state the mW, too. You must know the wavelength of the laser you’re using or going to be around to get the best safety glasses for your needs.

You’ll also want to take the OD and the VLT into consideration when you’re picking out your safety glasses, too.

What does mW, nm, VLT and OD even mean?

  • mW (millwatt) – A milliwatt is the output power of your laser. For example, a laser pointer might have an output of 1 mW, whereas a light show project might have a mW of 50. It really does depend on what you need it for. You won’t need laser safety glasses for anything lower than 5 mW. And, don’t go pointing a laser at your eyes directly because whether it’s 1 mW or 500 mW, it can do damage.
  • nm (nanometer) –  A Nanometer is a millionth of a meter, and is the unit used to measure light and lasers. The nm can be altered depending on the frequency used.
  • VLT (visible light transmition) – This is just the amount of visible light that you can see through the lens. If you want the best possible viewing from your glasses, then you should likely opt for a glass set of glasses.
  • OD (optical density) – Depending on what mW (the level of power, remember) your laser is, this will have an impact on the required optical density. this basically tells you the strength of a lens, as it measures how much of a wavelength that passes through.

Occupations that might need laser safety glasses

There are various different occupations and fields in which laser safety glasses may be necessary. I’m going to list a few that you’re probably aware of, but also some you might not have considered.

Military

Of course, technology had increased in it’s use within military circles. So much so in fact, that there are predictions we’ll soon be fighting laser wars like sci fi has predicted for decades.

This means that many military goggles and glasses are now made to be laser or lightproof as part of their standard set up. Of course, it’s unlikely that laser safety glasses will have much of an effect on a giant laser beam, but for smaller lasers used for aiming, they could be extremely helpful.

Cosmetic Surgery

The use of lasers by everyday folk has increased significantly. With more and more people getting tattoos, this has of course results in more and more people getting laser tattoo removal! Whilst some people are too careless to wear safety glasses for this sort of procedure, you most certainly should – this is exactly the type of laser that can cause damage.

Hair removal has also increased a lot in recent years with it’s decreasing price. Nanometers can vary considerably depending on what device you’re using, so be sure to keep this in mind and check before you buy.

Opticians

Many people think of lasers, they think of the opticians. If you wear glasses or you’ve had issues with your eyes, you might have dealt with this before. Fortunately, all professional opticians and people performing are aware of the dangers of lasers and how they can damage your eyes.

Other Medical Professions

Many other medical professions tend to use lasers as part of their equipment. Whether it’s gynaecology or cancer treatment, you’ll undoubtedly find lasers used in some way.

Industrial

Lasers have been used for years within industrial fields, particularly within occupations like sheet metal workers and welding.

With the increase of usage in new technologies too – think laser engraving and 3d printing – then we can be sure that the use of lasers within the industrial and commercial fields is only going to increase.

Construction/Homes

Lasers are also often used within the construction field. Laser levels are one of the more commonly used items within this field, making things exponentially easier for measuring distances.

 

 

 

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