Unfortunately, a lot of people know a little about lasers but not very specific laser safety information.

It is fairly complicated, but the Laser Institute of America and ANZI have tried to simply the situation by being somewhat conservative.

For visible lasers, assuming the initial beam size is about a millimeter in diameter, different classes of lasers are defined. By the way, the laser beams do spread out or diverge due to diffraction, and wavefront error, for a typical laser pointer the spread angle is about 2 milliradians, which is about 7 arc minutes or about one tenth of a degree.

Class 1 lasers have a power of less than 0.4 mW and are considered eye-safe.

Class 2 lasers have powers in the range of 0.4mW to 1mW. Class 2 lasers are considered eye-safe if you blink and look away when exposed to the beam. Because the beam travels with distance, class 2 lasers are eye-safe beyond a certain range.

Class 3A lasers have powers in the range of 1mW to 5mW. Do not look directly into the beam, and do not directly irradiate others with a Class 3A laser. At close range, they can cause permanent eye damage. But this usually doesn't happen because you are some distance away from the pointer and you blink.

Class 3B lasers have powers in the range of 5mW to 500mW. Class 3B lasers are the most powerful lasers that can be legally marketed as laser pointers. Class 3B lasers are more powerful and more dangerous, even at a distance. They can also cause painful damage to skin tissue. In some close-up situations, reflections on walls, plastics, wood, or other objects can be harmful to the eyes just by looking at them up close.

Class 4 lasers have powers in excess of 500mW. Class 4 lasers are dangerous, there is a fire hazard, and diffuse reflection is also a hazard, which is especially noteworthy. Because even looking at a reflective spot from a diffusing material at a distance can cause permanent damage to the eyes.

Now, more and more laser pointer and Laser flashlight sold in the market are class IIIB with a power over 5mW. But when the laser directly penetrates into the eyes, there may be some damage. Especially to some high power lasers, diffuse light probably damage the eyes, the focus are more likely to ignite flammable materials. Therefore laser pointers are not a toy, not suitable for children. When operating powerful laser pointer, wear special secure glasses would be safe, especially for the invisible lasers.

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