Wavelength dependence of ocular damage thresholds in the near-ir to far-ir transition region: proposed revisions to MPES.Health Phys 2007; 92(1):15-23HP
This report summarizes the results of a series of infrared (IR) laser-induced ocular damage studies conducted over the past decade. The studies examined retinal, lens, and corneal effects of laser exposures in the near-IR to far-IR transition region (wavelengths from 1.3-1.4 mum with exposure durations ranging from Q-switched to continuous wave). The corneal and retinal damage thresholds are tabulated for all pulsewidth regimes, and the wavelength dependence of the IR thresholds is discussed and contrasted to laser safety standard maximum permissible exposure limits. The analysis suggests that the current maximum permissible exposure limits could be beneficially revised to (1) relax the IR limits over wavelength ranges where unusually high safety margins may unintentionally hinder applications of recently developed military and telecommunications laser systems; (2) replace step-function discontinuities in the IR limits by continuously varying analytical functions of wavelength and pulsewidth which more closely follow the trends of the experimental retinal (for point-source laser exposures) and corneal ED50 threshold data; and (3) result in an overall simplification of the permissible exposure limits over the wavelength range from 1.2-2.6 mum. A specific proposal for amending the IR maximum permissible exposure limits over this wavelength range is presented.