A comprehensive resource for safe and responsible laser use
Laser pointer safety studies
This webpage contains more detailed information about laser pointer safety. Click on the link to find summaries and links to the original sources.
Also, see our pages on laser/aviation hazard studies, which include research papers conducted by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.
- 2002: Understanding levels of vision loss. This paper is useful in understanding that vision loss, such as from laser pointers, is not always total blindness as may be commonly assumed. There are various aspects and ranges. The paper makes recommendations on what ranges to use and the accommodations made for each range.
- 2006: Countering laser pointer threats to road safety. A description of technologies that can counter the threat to laser pointers. “... a frequency agile filter seems to be the most promising way .... [but] are not commercially available today.”
- 2010: Green Laser Pointers for Visual Astronomy: How Much Power Is Enough?” A study of 23 observers in a heavily light-polluted urban setting found that 1.4 to 3.5 mW was sufficient to see the beam. The conclusion is that lasers below the 5 mW limit of Class 3R would be acceptable for use in educational nighttime outdoors activities.
- 2013: Keeping an eye on safety - Protection against laser radiation. An overview of lasers and safety from a German government health institute. Includes three research projects on the blink reflex, aversion response and glare.
- 2013: 30 Laser pointers and eye injuries: An analysis of reported cases. A comprehensive overview done for the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority by Löfgren, Thaung and Lopes. Reviews 34 cases where a laser pointer beam deliberately or accidentally entered the eye and caused retinal damage.
- 2015:54 Retinal injuries from handheld lasers: An updated report. This is a follow-on to the 2013 Swedish Radiation Safety Authority study above. It reviews an additional 47 cases of laser pointer injury. In addition, a key objective of the study is to try and correlate the laser dosage with the injuries that were seen.
- 2017: German literature review study that found 48 publications worldwide describing a total of 111 patients in whom both acute and permanent damage due to laser pointers was documented.
- 2019: UK study of hazards to children looked at case studies, authors' cases and a survey of ophthalmologists to report on injuries to children, and especially those with behavioral, learning or mental health problems.