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Old 12-07-2008, 12:45 AM #1
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Default Risk posed by diffuse reflections from burning

In an idle moment I did some calculations on the risk (if any) posed by diffuse reflections.

I got some quite interesting results.

I took as a baseline the risk posed by staring at the sun. A google search suggests there is a risk of retinopathy for exposure of more than about 30-60 seconds. Assuming 1kw per m2 of solar radiation and pupil diameter of 1mm, the sun produces a focused image on the retina with an intensity of about 100 mw per mm2.

Viewing a diffusely reflected spot from a 250mw pointer from a distance of 0.5 metres (a fairly typical eye to match distance for burning!) would produce about the same per mm2 of retina.

Based on this, you would be at *some risk of eye damage with the above if you stared at the match-head for more than 20 seconds. A good reason to wear goggles for burning !

On the other hand, diffuse reflections from walls etc pose basically no risk. A diffuse reflection from a 250 mw pointer at 2metres would produce only 6mw per mm2 on the retina which would be unlikely to cause eye damage, even for an exposure of many minutes. Specular (mirror) reflections are of course another matter. *Reflections from a powerful pointer may pose a risk of eye damage, depending on the quality of the mirror surface, even at a few metres distant.



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Old 12-07-2008, 05:39 AM #2
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Default Re: Risk posed by diffuse reflections from burning

Remember that laser light is coherent, and therefore more dangerous. I don't think it's a good idea to skimp on safety even though you don't THINK it's dangerous. If you can afford to buy a laser capable of burning, you can definitely afford to buy protection for your vision. You can never buy back vision damaged by a laser.

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Old 12-09-2008, 03:13 AM #3
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Default Re: Risk posed by diffuse reflections from burning

This also could depend on the laser. The sun isn't all coherent (as said above), but some lasers are really dangerous for your eyes. A blu-ray laser is concentrated near UV, which could instantly cause damage. I reall wouldn't stare at a blu-ray dot for 15 seconds.
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