Laser protective eyewear includes glasses and goggles designed to filter out harmful radiation from lasers. If left unprotected, the human eye can be damaged permanently from direct or reflected laser beams and radiation. Laser protective eyewear, which is designed to reduce the amount of incident light from specific wavelengths to safe levels, must be worn at all times during laser operation to prevent ocular injury. Laser protective eyewear is available in the form of laser safety goggles, which fit tightly on the face and can be worn over prescription glasses; laser safety glasses, a frame with two separate lenses and side shields; or a laser shield such as a stainless steel or lead shield.
Laser protective eyewear must be specific to the type of laser radiation involved. Laser wavelength, optical density (OD), visual transmittance, peak irradiance, field of view, effects on color vision, absence of irreversible bleaching of the filter, comfort, and impact resistance should all be considered when selecting the type of laser protective eyewear to be used. Because laser safety eyewear can suffer from damage and deterioration, laser protective eyewear should be examined periodically for integrity and replaced as needed.
With the increasing use of lasers in industries such as medicine, research, and manufacturing, laser protective eyewear is used widely and available from many commercial sources. Eye injuries are common in many workplaces, with more than 1,000 injuries occurring daily. Many laser-related injuries occur because the worker was either not wearing eyewear at the time of the accident, or was wearing the wrong type of eyewear. In the United States, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) maintains Personal Protective Equipment Standard 1910.133 regulates eye and face protection standards for workers. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z136 series also governs laser safety standards for industry, medicine, research, and government.