Laser got shined in my eye
March 21, 2013 10:48 AM   Subscribe

I have a laser thermometer I use to shine onto objects to see what temperature they are. I let someone else use it and I think they shined it in my eye. How strong is the laser in it it? Its a called a fluke 62 mini. It has a laser warning sticker on it.
posted by john123357 to Health & Fitness (33 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
For how long? How long ago? Are you still seeing spots?

All lasers have warning stickers, even cheap $5 pointers.
posted by supercres at 10:49 AM on March 21, 2013

I also think its a Infrared laser not sure though
posted by john123357 at 10:50 AM on March 21, 2013

It was last night, after it happened one of my eyes seemed a little blurry and it still seems that way today.
posted by john123357 at 10:51 AM on March 21, 2013

Can you see the dot for the laser? The thermometer might be infrared (heat~infrared emission), but if the laser were infrared, that would defeat the purpose.

Do you have a regular optometrist or ophthalmologist? Might be worth a visit.
posted by supercres at 10:53 AM on March 21, 2013

this is the laser

yes I have a ophthalmologist I can go to but
I was just there last week for another eye problem so I don't want him to think I'm a hypochondriac or something. Besides is there anything he can even do? Whats the first aid for laser eye exposure?
posted by john123357 at 10:56 AM on March 21, 2013

It's a regular sub-mW class 2 laser used to aim the infrared beam. Same laser you use to play with cats. You're fine as long as you don't stare at it while trying really hard not to blink.
posted by Jairus at 10:57 AM on March 21, 2013

Does the fact that its a Infrared laser make it more dangerous? I never got the urge to blink and looked at it for several seconds.
posted by john123357 at 11:02 AM on March 21, 2013

You'd need to look straight into it for about fifteen minutes before you could be in any trouble.
posted by Jairus at 11:09 AM on March 21, 2013 [4 favorites]

You think they shined it in your eye, but you know that you looked at it for several seconds? This is confusing.
posted by DWRoelands at 11:10 AM on March 21, 2013 [5 favorites]

The "infrared" part of the thermometer is passive; it's measuring the infrared light emitted by the target, which is proportional to temperature. There is nothing emitted by the thermometer in the IR range.

The "laser" part of the thermometer is the red laser which is just used to point out to you where the spot is that's being measured. Because it's at a different wavelength than the IR that's being measured, it doesn't affect the measurement.

Jarius is right on: you would have to try very hard to injure yourself by aiming the red dot into your eye and not blinking. That's still possible to do; lasers are fascinating ! But it would take some attempt. I know that when classroom/cat laser pointers have flickered into my eye I blinked immediately.
posted by Kakkerlak at 11:10 AM on March 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

just call your entomologist already and ask them.

you are likely going to be just fine, but like most medical questions talk to those who's job it is to know to get an answer worth a damn.
posted by edgeways at 11:15 AM on March 21, 2013 [5 favorites]

No, infrared refers to the range of light-frequences that are below red in color and are invisible to our eyes, but are felt as radiant heat.

The wattage of the laser is the power level of the laser; as noted, it is sub-1 milliwatt. This is very very low.

The "eye" on the thermometer is reading the infrared light emitted by your pans, and judging the temperature. And I repeat what people are saying above. The Infrared has nothing to do with the laser. The laser could be replaced by a short stick and the thermometer would still work. (A stick in the eye is far far more damaging than this laser. This laser is SAFER THAN A STICK.)
posted by Sunburnt at 11:15 AM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

just call your entomologist already and ask them.

I'm not sure an entomologist would be of much help in this case, but, yeah. CALL AN EXPERT and also, whether they think you're a hypochondriac or not, that's not such a big deal compared to possible BLINDNESS. Just go get it looked at!
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:18 AM on March 21, 2013 [7 favorites]

[OP this is not a discussion forum, please keep comments to necessary updates]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:18 AM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Is there anything he can even do? Whats the first aid for laser eye exposure?
posted by john123357 at 11:22 AM on March 21, 2013

For folks in the know, is the symptomology of laser in the eye blurry vision? I thought it burned your retina (i.e., black spots in vision), not made your eyes blurry.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 11:26 AM on March 21, 2013

Is there anything he can even do? Whats the first aid for laser eye exposure?

I don't know, maybe you should... ask a doctor? In person? So that they can either reassure you that nothing is wrong or administer emergency aide or put you on a corneal transplant list, but probably the first thing?
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:27 AM on March 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

Go and see your eye doctor and tell him you're there because your eye is a bit blurry. Then he'll say, 'Has anything unusual happened to it lately?' and then YOU say, 'Hmm, actually -' and whip out your laser thermometer pointer thingy and tell him what you just told us.

Done and done.

Good luck!
posted by Salamander at 11:36 AM on March 21, 2013

Just call your opthamologist and say, "Okay, I just did something stupid and think I got a laser shined in my eye. My vision is now blurry in that eye and I'm not sure if it's because of the laser or because of something else. What should I do?"

Go. To. Your. Doctor.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 11:46 AM on March 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

You would know if it was shined in your eye. Did you see a red light? The laser is not infrared, it is visible and used for aiming. The sensor just measures the infrared level like a camera, it is completely harmless.

Even if the laser was shined in your eye, as others have pointed out you would have to stare at it for an extended period.
posted by cosmac at 11:50 AM on March 21, 2013

is the symptomology of laser in the eye blurry vision or black spots in vision?
posted by john123357 at 11:55 AM on March 21, 2013

According to the manual the fluke 62 uses a class 2 laser. According to this you would need 15 minutes of continuous exposure to be a risk of eye damage.

Here is a self test (pdf) you can take to see if you need to see someone.
posted by cosmac at 12:00 PM on March 21, 2013 [7 favorites]

entomologist? How the hell did I write that? Ophthalmologist, damn it ophthalmologist. call them. (not a bug doctor, good lord I surprise myself sometimes)
posted by edgeways at 12:14 PM on March 21, 2013 [5 favorites]

is the symptomology of laser in the eye blurry vision or black spots in vision?

Call the eye doctor and explain the situation to him or her. This is the best advice you're going to get here. Period.
posted by DWRoelands at 12:28 PM on March 21, 2013

You need to contact your eye doctor.
posted by donnagirl at 1:05 PM on March 21, 2013

Seeing as they said it wasn't strong enough to hurt my eye, I'm looking for information of the treatment and complications of laser eye injuries out of curiosity. I will not be contacting my doctor.
posted by john123357 at 1:27 PM on March 21, 2013

If you are wanting to satisfy your curiosity about laser eye injuries I suggest you contact my colleague Dr. Google.

If you are concerned about your own actual eye, which you may or may not have shined a laser into, then you ought to contact your doctor. Period, full stop.

It would be unethical in the extreme for anyone to offer you concrete medical treatment advice over the Internet. You may have noticed that no one is responding to your repeated questions regarding "first aid for laser eye exposure" and "symptoms of laser injuries". This is why.
posted by maryrussell at 2:03 PM on March 21, 2013 [7 favorites]

A laser can damage the retina by burning it and thereby killing photoreceptors. That would cause a a permanent blind spot. If that happens, there is nothing to be done, because, well, permanence.
posted by starkraven at 3:36 PM on March 21, 2013

Whether or not blurry vision and black spots are likely to be the result of laser exposure, they do still seem like the sort of thing that you'd want to see an eye doctor about, rather than dismissing.
posted by Good Brain at 3:46 PM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

There's a lot of confusion and misinformation in this thread so far.

Although it's called an "infrared thermometer", the device in question has a visible light laser. The infrared part is a sensor (does not emit) used to measure temperature. It's not emitting infrared.*

There is no infrared laser here. First aid, safety advice, etc. having to do with infrared lasers is not especially helpful, since OP did not actually look at one, and they can cause different types of eye injuries (e.g. cataracts) than visible light lasers.

It would be nearly impossible to cause eye damage with a sub-mW visible light laser. It will trigger your blink reflex and cause you to look away before it causes ocular burns. The rule of thumb for risk isn't until you get up around 10mW, where there's actually enough energy to possibly burn your eye before you'll blink. But that's an order of magnitude more powerful than what we're discussing.

Again, this is different than with IR lasers, which don't trigger your blink reflex (because you can't see them) and thus it's easier to have a longer inadvertent exposure. But since the device doesn't contain an IR laser that's not applicable. (The only consumer products I'm aware of that contain IR lasers powerful enough to cause eye damage are CD burners and LaserDisc players.)

OP, I'm not saying "you're fine," because I guess it's entirely possible you have an eye problem, but whatever eye problem you have is almost certainly unrelated to any exposure from the tiny laser used in that thermometer.

* Except blackbody radiation, but probably less energetically than the person holding it.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:02 PM on March 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

Optical Engineer. Studied eye safety regs. Designed lidar (laser-based "radar") systems that had to be eye-safe, which were SHITLOADS more powerful than your little instrument.


If you buy an off-the-shelf product with a laser, it's eye-safe.

(The regulations do presume that you aren't so fucking stupid as to stare into the laser unblinking and unflinching for several minutes. Don't do that.)

You. Are. Fine.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:19 PM on March 22, 2013 [4 favorites]

Oopsy: forgot. This isn't just book-learnin'. I once checked the alignment of a laser by looking straight into its unexpanded (full-power) beam*. It wasn't eyesafe, in the legal sense. Fortunately, it was eyesafe in the practical sense. I've had multiple eye exams since then, specifically to catalog retinal damage (which is how companies cover their asses before letting you play with lasers); I had none.

That laser was more powerful than your laser.

* (Hey, I was tired, OK? People make mistakes; mine was with a laser instead of a chainsaw.)
posted by IAmBroom at 10:23 AM on March 25, 2013

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