Lasers are now widely used in our everyday lives. They can be found at home, at work and are used for a wide range of applications. Lasers are a valuable scientific tool in materials, pharmaceutical and forensic science, and play an important role in the medical and industrial sectors. Lasers are also used for entertainment purposes because of their spectacular appearance.
At home, lasers are found in many modern devices, such as line lasers for construction work, rangefinders, alignment lasers for saws and drills, laser printers and DVD and Blu-Ray® players. In many consumer devices, the laser is enclosed inside the device so that the laser beam cannot reach the outside of the device. Consumer lasers are not powerful enough to be dangerous.
The power of professional laser equipment is not limited, and they can be dangerous, especially to the eyes. The danger of laser radiation is because lasers can focus large amounts of radiation energy and power on a very small spot. The power of laser radiation attenuates very slowly with increasing distance.
Laser radiation does not penetrate deep into the tissue, which is why the adverse effects consist of damage to the skin and different parts of the eye. A beam hitting the eye can be dangerous. A strong laser beam accidentally hitting the eye or skin can cause permanent injuries. A laser beam that hits the eye can cause permanent damage to the retina because the laser beam is focused on the retina in an extremely small spot. A large amount of energy then hits this point, burning the retinal cells so severely that they are unable to recover. Lasers operating in the visible light and near-infrared wavelengths can cause permanent retinal damage to the eye.