Safety concerns about laser pointers

David H. Sliney, Jerome E. Dennis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


In the past two years considerable concerns have been expressed about the safety of Class 3A laser pointers. The concern has been that Class 3A diode-laser pointers have replaced the safer helium-neon (He-Ne) Class 2 laser pointers. Hundreds of thousands of small He-Ne visible-wavelength lasers have been traditionally used for alignment and pointing, laser demonstrations and laser displays in science, education and industry, but can the diode laser be as safe and effective? Not infrequently, some people associate 'lasers' with Buck Rogers and 'Star Wars', and are concerned whether their use in pubic is safe. This safety issue is raised and the risks of viewing small lasers are compared with viewing the sun or bright spotlights. It is shown that He-Ne lasers through Class 3a (up to 5 mW power) are not a significant eye hazard; however, Class 3A diode lasers may not elicit a strong 'aversion response' in some individuals, and greater precautions may be necessary than with He-Ne lasers of the same power.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-164
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Laser Applications
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1994
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Instrumentation
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials


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