Laser Pen

The Do's and Dont's of safe use

Laser Pen

First, a public service announcement: a laser pen is not a toy. They should not be purchased with the intention of any or all of the following:

. recreating the pants-threatening laser of James Bond movie fame
. teasing your cat/dog/goldfish
. laser 'fishing' your neighbors
. or using a laser pen for any other purpose for which it was not designed

Laser pens, or laser pointers as they are also known, are perfectly legitimate presentational tools. But in the wrong hands have been known to injure people and cause accidents. Before purchasing a laser pen some background knowledge is essential.

The laser was first developed in the 1960s, and much of today's technology including medical equipment, office printers and CD/DVD players rely on lasers.

An abbreviation of Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation, the laser is the strongest source of light ever created by humans. The beam that emerges from an average hand-held laser pointer is more than a million times brighter than a domestic light bulb. Therefore it is vital to be aware of a laser's power and the danger it represents to the eye.

Handled with care a laser pen is harmless, but the intensity of the light can easily damage the sight of a person or animal looking directly into the beam for a sustained period. Even a short glance directly into a laser source can cause temporary flash blindess similar to that experienced during flash photography. A laser shining into the human eye for around 90 seconds or less can be sufficient to cause permanent irreparable damage. In the worst case, a laser projected into the eye from a telescope or binoculars could lead to blindness.

So why use them at all?

In business and education the increasing trend for audio visual presentations and PowerPoints has helped the growth of the laser pen. The laser pointer is the high-tech method of pinpointing important elements on the screen without the speaker's physical presence dominating the focus of attention.

The applications of the laser pen and laser pointer are almost limitless. However, anyone owning a laser pen or laser pointer should take the following on board:

. Only buy a laser pen or pointer if it carries a warning about potential eye damage. This means that it has passed FDA regulations

. Read the manufacturer's instructions carefully

. Choose a laser pen or laser pointer that is pressure activated that way you cannot leave the laser on accidentally when you are done

. Never look into the beam or shine the beam directly at anyone

. Ensure children cannot get access to a laser pen/pointer

. Take care that your laser beam will not reflect off mirrored surfaces

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