Main safety concerns are potential optical hazards:
- startle effects
- after-images if struck in the eye
Longer eye exposures can cause more permanent eye damage including retinal burns.
The blink reflex, also called aversion response, is effective enough to protect the eye from any potential laser damage with lasers that have an output power less than 5 milliwatt (mW).
The following YouTube video from the FDA Video discusses the use of caution when handling laser pointers: https://youtu.be/FPPnFg_ujJI
UW-Madison allows the use of Class 2 and Class 3A/R laser pointers without prior approval.