Monday Sep 23, 2019  
  15/03/2011: The Danger of Laser Pointer
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Laser pointers are visible lasers with a relatively low power output, which are frequently used in lecture halls and demonstrations to point at topics of interest on a presentation board. In a school setting, laser pointers have become commonly used, and they are very useful teaching aids. A drop in the price of laser pointers has also led to increased use among the general population. More common use of laser pointers has raised concerns about their safety, especially around the eyes.

The biggest concern with laser pointers and the eyes is temporary optical problems. These issues include flash blindness, glare, and afterimages. Flash blindness occurs whenever someone is exposed to a bright light source. While it only lasts for a few seconds, it can be extremely dangerous when someone is involved in a task that requires vision. Afterimages can last for several days, and take the form of small spots in the vision. Glare, a reduction of visibility caused by bright light, occurs while the laser pointer is directed at the eyes.

Many laser pointers are IIIA devices, meaning that there is a potential for damage with direct exposure to the laser. Class two lasers are less powerful, and are a better choice for laser pointers if we are concerned about safety. However, the lower light output may not be effective in a lecture hall. The light energy that laser pointers can aim into the eye can be more damaging than staring directly at the sun.

A green laser pointer tends to already be fairly powerful, and this was used by AS Roma’s fan to pointed in Lazio goalkeeper Nando Muslera’s eyes during the Rome derby on 13 March 2011. Based on video footage it was happening during the free kick and penalty that allowed Francesco Totti to scored. (pictured)

It is a very unsporting behavior. Unfortuantely, the referee did nothing to stop it from happening. Even it’s true Lazio did not play up to their usual standards, but it was a shame that Roma won due to those incidents, as many like other occasions.

(Ali Alkatiri)
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