Is laser really safe for the human eye?

Written by LEMON Photonics January 30, 2024

Q&A: Is laser really safe for the human eye?

Have you ever noticed the warning signs of "Caution: Laser" in our daily lives?

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In communication with customers, our friends at LEMON Photonics are often asked if the scenarios we apply are safe for the human eye, especially when someone is looking at it. Since the human eye cannot perceive infrared waves, we may unknowingly receive injury. Is the laser really safe for the human eye?


Do you have the same confusion?


According to data from previous years, 70% of laser injury events are due to retinal burns, and 90% of these are caused by visible or near-infrared light. It is necessary for both ordinary consumers and professionals to establish correct laser safety awareness. Below, let's take a look at laser safety knowledge for the human eye.


Actually, lasers are classified by safety level by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). The IEC divides laser classes into 7 types, which you can read more about in the table below:

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Class 1: The naked eye can see the laser and protective equipment is not required. Only lasers that meet the IEC standard for Class 1 are considered safe for the human eye.


Class 1M: It is safe for use in general, but may still cause injury if viewed through magnifying glass or focusing lens.


Class 2: Limited to visible laser wavelength (400–700 nm), may cause injury if stared at for a long time (similar to staring at the sun for a long time).


Class 2M: Under the same conditions as Class 2, viewing through magnifying glass or focusing lens may cause injury.


Class 3R: Includes all wavelengths, may cause vision damage if looked at directly or reflected into the eye (although the risk is relatively small). It will not cause skin burns or fires. Note that most laser pointers fall into this category.


Class 3B: Dangerous if looked at directly or reflected into the eye, but will not cause skin burns or fires. This level of laser must be under the direction of a professional laser safety officer and have written operating procedures.


Class 4: Very dangerous, full body protection required.


LEMON Photonics has several advanced VCSEL (Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Laser), HCSEL (Horizontal Cavity Surface Emitting Laser), and EEL (Edge Emitting Laser) products that have passed laser safety certification. Wavelengths available include 808nm, 850nm, 920nm, 940nm, and 976nm, with optical power ranging from 10mW ~ 50W and PCE (Power Conversion Efficiency) above 43%, with a 940nm 30mW 3-junction VCSEL having a PCE of up to 55%. Feel free to inquire about our products.


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