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Dangers of shining a 303 laser through a window

idiot2023

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Joined
Mar 15, 2023
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Hi, newbie here. I've been reading various threads in this wonderful forum for a couple of days now, and decided to register and ask a couple of questions.

I apologize for a long post in advance.

This happened a week ago. So my roommate has a gold colored YL-303-Laser which he bought 5-6 years ago, and without him knowing, one evening I decided to shine it through a window glass, just to see how far it can reach outside. Yes, I know I'm an idiot, I know nothing about lasers and honestly I'm not even interested in any of them, I'm just naturally curious (or an idiot, whatever you wanna call it). By the way, my roommate always uses this laser without any protective glasses: 95% of the time he uses it outside to shine at the moon, stars or forests. If indoors, he mainly uses it on the walls for short periods of time when the lights are off and the room is dark (he doesn't do this often though). This made me assume that the laser is completely legal and shouldn't be dangerous. Although I'm stupid, I do understand that looking directly in the laser beam is NEVER safe, no matter the power of the laser, so I HAVE NOT DONE THAT EVER.

What I did was this:

It was already dark outside, so I turned off the lights in the room, picked up the laser and shined it through a window. The laser was probably ~10 cm close to the window glass, and I aimed it almost a straight line, maybe a bit downwards, but it was a mostly a straight line. I was holding the laser in front of my face - around mouth level, my eyes were above the laser - I would say my head/eyes were probably ~50-70 cm close to the window. The window is a typical European double glazed window (I'm from EU).

What happened? I pressed the button and immediately closed my eyes and turned off the laser, because the green light was just too intense. Well, the idiot that I am, I decided to try it once more, but this time my face was not as close to the window glass, probably somewhere around 1 meter away, and I was holding the laser quite a bit to the side and not in front of my face. I pressed the button again, and once again I immediately turned away and turned off the laser. The glare of the green light on the window was just too intense. I would say that the laser was turned on for no more than 1-2 seconds each time.

I turned on the lights in my room, put the laser back to its place and I went to continue doing my stuff that I was doing before this stupid experiment.
The following evening I got curious and decided to google the name of the laser and the panic started to settle in. I read about the fake power labels and all the extreme dangers that this laser is capable of.

Now, I don't think I was hit by a specular reflection off a window (or was I?). I haven't noticed anything unusual in my vision until I started reading about the eye damage that these lasers can do. This happened a week ago and I've been anxious 24/7 and reading, forums and watching YouTube videos about lasers since then. I can feel that my eyes are tired, drier than before, I stare at the white surfaces everyday at least a couple of times to check for any black dots or floaters, and I'm hyper aware of every little unusual thing that I might see in my vision.

I remember that when I shined through the window, I had a similar feeling to being flashed in the eyes by a bright flashlight. I remember that I had some afterimages which were not round shapes, not a line - it was some sort of a scattered pattern in both of my eyes. The afterimages, I think, lasted no more than a couple of minutes, probably 5-7 minutes maximum. If I can compare it to a welding flash that I, unfortunately, have seen a couple of times in the past from quite a close range for a brief second or two without any protection, I would say that afterimages of the weld flash were much more intense and they lasted longer.

I did not see any blind spots nor that evening, neither today or any other day after this stupid experiment. I don't think I see any floaters, unusual blobs or anything, I don't feel any pain (well, just that from tiredness dry eyes). I also now have hyper-awareness of my vision, which doesn't help me at all. I wake up with, go on with my day with, and go to bed with a never-ending lingering thought that I might have permanently damaged my eyes by my own stupidity.

I tried a reading experiment with 3 different books with different size and type fonts: take a book, close one eye and read it, then swap eyes. I've done it three times with each different book: firstly while holding a book at a reading distance, then at my arm's length, and lastly while very close to my face. I've swapped eyes numerous times, and I did not experience difficulty reading the text.

I understand that that means nothing, because I read that it is possible to have done damage to the eyes and not feel anything, only a specialized eye doctors can see it with examinations.

I've even drawn a picture with MS Paint so you can better understand the situation:


And, I have two questions:
  1. Could it be true that I was flash blinded by the glare of the green light that reflected of the window glass (marked with red arrows in the picture), and not a specular reflection of the laser beam? If so, how dangerous is that glare? Is it as dangerous as the specular reflection of the beam = direct laser in the eye?
  2. My annual eye check up is due in ~ month. Would it be advisable to try to schedule it much sooner, because I might have damaged my eyes with my incredible stupidity?
Anyway, thanks in advance and you can definitely call me an idiot, I deserve it. Yes, I understand that protective glasses are a must, and I would have bought them, if I was interested in lasers in the first place. But, as I mentioned, I'm simply not keen on them (I'm never touching any laser again in my life), and I did not know that such powerful and dangerous lasers are legal and so widely available.
 
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WizardG

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May 9, 2011
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Clean glass is usually prety shiny so, yeah, specular reflection. But a '303 is usually in the 50 or mW class and most of the beam's power went through the window. You flashed yourself with only a few percent of the output of the pointer.

No one here can diagnose your eyes but, going out on a limb here, I think you'll be fine. Call it a learning experience, and get some good laser safety goggles if you want to continue in this hobby.

I scared the crap outta myself once when I pointed a 1 watt blue at a bookshelf in my workshop. The beam bounced off of a paperback with that shiny, fake chrome kind of silvering on the cover and caught me right in the face. I was lucky the cover of that book had enough relief that is was a very poor mirror. No damage, but I was flash-blinded but good for a few adrenaline pumping minutes.
 
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Unless you are experiencing problems with your vision after this I wouldn't be too concerned about it. But, that is me and you have to make up your mind about what you consider this accidental strike and your vision have sustained any damage to you.
 

idiot2023

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Joined
Mar 15, 2023
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Thanks for the replies guys. Being a hypochondriac with OCD tendencies doesn't help me at all, but hopefully everything will be alright.
 




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