Safety recommendations for laser pointers

J Laser Appl. 1998 Aug;10(4):174-80. doi: 10.2351/1.521848.


The use of laser diode pointers that operate in the visible radiation region (400-760 nm) is becoming widespread. These pointers are intended for use by educators while presenting talks in the classroom or at conventions and meetings. They are also useful in any situation where one needs to point out special items during any instructive situation. The pointers can be purchased in novelty stores, mail-order magazines, office supply stores, common electronic stores, and over the internet. The power omitted by these laser pointers ranges from 1 to 5 mW. The potential for hazard with laser pointers is generally considered to be limited to the unprotected eyes of individuals who might be exposed by a direct beam (intrabeam viewing). No skin hazard usually exists. There are, however, even more powerful laser pointers now appearing. The units are imported into the U.S. often without proper manufacturer certification or labeling. The potential for hazards with these devices is not well understood by the general public and workers, and numerous exposure incidents have been recorded by the authors. Users of these products need to be alerted to the potential hazards and be encouraged to follow appropriate safety recommendations. These factors are discussed and safety recommendations for laser pointers are presented.

MeSH terms

  • Certification
  • Consumer Product Safety*
  • Educational Technology / instrumentation
  • Electronics / instrumentation
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Equipment Design
  • Equipment Safety
  • Eye Injuries / etiology
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Humans
  • Lasers* / adverse effects
  • Lasers* / classification
  • Lasers* / standards
  • Occupational Exposure
  • Product Labeling
  • Retina / radiation effects
  • Vision Disorders / etiology