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Injury from a light show laser?

Every few years, ILDA receives a report of a claimed or suspected eye injury to a laser light show audience member.

It is theoretically possible for such an injury to occur. After all, in almost 40 years of widespread laser shows, 140 million people have had 14 billion exposures of laser light in their eyes. And unfortunately many of these exposures were well over the Maximum Permissible Exposure levels that safety experts recommend.

Despite all this, in all those years there has been literally just a handful of claimed or suspected eye injuries from continuous-wave visible light lasers used for shows. A number of reasons that actual injuries are so low are listed below.

Because of this record of few injuries, we urge doctors, media, regulators and others to use caution when there is a claim of an eye injury. Is it really a laser injury? If so, was it really caused by a laser light show laser laser?

Again, it is theoretically possible for someone to suffer an injury from a continuous-wave visible light laser show … but review the information below before coming to any final conclusion:

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If you believe you were injured

If you believe you were injured by a laser — from a show, from laser pointer misuse, or from some other cause — see this webpage about what to do if you are hit by a laser beam.

If the potential injury is from a laser show, also please contact ILDA. We will add this to our list of known injury reports. We will also take any appropriate steps to investigate and, if it is a Member, take action within ILDA.

For more details

Detailed information about audience scanning injuries, potential reasons for the low rate of reported injuries, and related information is in a 31-page paper, “Scanning Audiences at Laser Shows: Theory, Practice and a Proposal.” This paper was originally presented at the 2009 International Laser Safety Conference. It has been updated as of 2012.

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ILDAmember.com for membership database and event management (including joining ILDA), and LasershowSafety.info for safety information.

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