Links and resources


“Illuminating the Hazards of Powerful Laser Products”. A webpage and a downloadable PDF brochure from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Both versions have the same information, about the hazards of powerful (> 5mW) laser pointers, a summary of the FDA’s authority over lasers, and tips for consumers. Issued in June 2009.

" 'Overpowered' Laser Pointer Sales Prompt FDA Probe".'s comprehensive overview from April 2005 that is still relevant. Discusses FDA's concerns "about their potential to cause eye damage and aircraft disasters". Recounts some eye injury incidents. Goes over visual interference from pilots. Has details of Visual Warning System lasers deliberately aimed at pilots straying into Washington D.C. airspace. Tells how high-power laser pointers can legally be sold on the Internet, and at least one valid use.

Safety Recommendations of Laser Pointers. A 6-page document written by James Rockwell and Bill Ertle (Rockwell Laser Industries) and Eugene Moss (National Institutes of Occupational Safety & Health) in March 2005. It covers pointers, pointer safety, vision effects, incidents, and safety practices.

What To Do If You Are Hit By a Laser Beam. How to tell if you have a visual injury, when to seek professional care, what types of injuries can occur, and a discussion of treatment options.

Laser Effects on Cameras and Camcorders. Camera sensor chips are sensitive to laser beams and can easily be damaged. The damage can occur by an individual consumer aiming his or her laser into a camera. It can also occur at laser light shows where powerful lasers are scanning the audience. This page describes what damage looks like and gives some prevention tips.

FAA Laser Safety Initiative. This is the main web page for the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to inform pilots and the public about laser hazards. One link leads to a page where laser incidents can be reported. Another link leads to the FAA’s Laser Hazards & Effects web page which has additional links to FAA and FDA information, plus a long 21-minute video. (A shorter 10-minute version of the video at YouTube condenses the main details.)

“Laser Hazards in Navigable Airspace”, also known as “Medical Facts for Pilots” (AM-400-10/3), a 4-page PDF brochure from the FAA intended for media, pilots and others. Describes the hazards of laser light, FAA flight zones, FAA regulations and publications, and what pilots can do if they experience an incident. Written by Nakagawara, Wood and Montgomery.

“The Laser Threat: Authorities struggle to shut off the beams aimed into cockpits”, a January 2014 article in Smithsonian Air & Space magazine, written by aviation author Christine Negroni. Discusses not only the hazards to pilots, but what is trying to be done to reduce incidents and catch perpetrators.

Sentences for Persons Convicted of Laser Offenses. A list of people who have been jailed and/or fined for aiming lasers at aircraft. The offenders are from both the U.S. and around the world.

The website is intended as a central resource for information about laser pointer and handheld laser safety. It is concerned both with eye injuries and with aviation incidents. It contains three News sections (aviation incidents, non-aviation incidents, and statistics/laws/other), a list of persons convicted of laser offenses, statistics on laser/aircraft incidents, a FAQ about laser safety, U.S. and worldwide laws, what to do if you are hit by a laser, and much more.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has an excellent Laser Hazards webpage. It contains a summary of information that would normally be covered in a Laser Safety Officer course.

The OSHA webpage is highly recommended for anyone wanting more in-depth information.

Note that this website,, is focused on the hazards of visible consumer lasers such as laser pointers and, to a lesser extent, laser light shows. The OSHA webpage covers additional types of lasers such as infrared and ultraviolet lasers, and lasers used for industry, research, medicine, etc.

Table of Contents

Nonbeam Laser Hazards
Biological Effects of the Laser Beam
Laser Hazard Classifications
Investigational Guidelines
Control Measures and Safety Programs


Appendix III:6-1. FDA-CDRH Requirements for Laser Products
Appendix III:6-2. FDA-CDRH Federal Laser Product Performance Standard Evaluation Outline
Appendix III:6-3. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI)
Appendix III:6-4. Warning Signs
Appendix III:6-5. Glossary of Laser Terms

The American National Standards Institute Z136 standards is a set of recommended standards for the safe use of lasers. ANSI Z136.1 deals with safe use of lasers in general. Z136.6 covers safe use of lasers outdoors.

The International Electrotechnical Commission issues international standards in a variety of areas. IEC Technical Committee 76, “Optical radiation safety and laser equipment” oversees the laser safety standard 60825. Standard 60825-1 is for lasers in general, 60825-3 is guidance for laser displays and shows; both of these include outdoor safety as part of the standard.

Note that IEC 60825 is a product standard, primarily covering the laser device itself, while ANSI Z136 is a user standard, covering the safe use of lasers.