b. Ocular Effects. It is particularly important to wear protective goggles when
working with lasers. There is a potential for eye damage from laser radiation.
(1) Retina damage. Blood vessels on and behind the retina may be
damaged by lasers. Such damage causes these blood vessels to bleed and may result
in partial or complete, temporary or permanent blindness. Another portion of the retina
which may sustain damage from lasers is the retina periphery, the area surrounding the
fovea of the eye. Laser injuries to the retina periphery may result in problems with
peripheral vision. The patient should be able to perform all fine visual tasks normally.
After a period of time, even though this injury is permanent, the patient will adapt and
become unaware that his peripheral vision is not perfect.
(2) Lens opacification. The lens of the eye becomes opaque so that the
person cannot see through that eye.
Keratitis. The cornea of the eye becomes inflamed.
(4) Pupillary accommodation. The potential for damage to the eye depends
on pupillary accommodation (the ability of the eye to adjust for various distances) and
whether or not the individual was working with lasers with the naked eye or viewing
lasers through binoculars, periscope, etc.
(5) Hemorrhage. Additional damage to the eye may result from hemorrhage
(bleeding), the retina pushing out into the vitreous portion of the eye, and loss of fluid in
the vitreous portion of the eye (vitreous humor).
2-16. CONTROL MEASURES IN THE MILITARY
a. Survey--Army Environmental Hygiene Agency. The Army Environmental
Hygiene Agency has established guidelines for laser use and checks periodically to see
that the guidelines are being followed.
b. Medical Surveillance. Personnel with a significant risk of exposure to
hazardous levels of laser radiation shall have a preplacement and a termination eye
surveillance examination. Such personnel will be included in an Occupational Vision
Program for a vision screen examination every other year. The following personnel
should receive ocular (eye) surveillance examination:
(1) Eye tests. Individuals routinely using Class 3 or Class 4 lasers in any
research, development, testing, and evaluation (RDTE) effort where adequate
protective measures are not feasible should be tested. Those people who are involved
in only one laser test of short duration would not normally receive preplacement or
termination eye examinations. They would be examined only if an injury caused by
laser radiation was suspected.