Laser Pointer Safety


Laser pointers, considered a class 3A laser, are battery-powered handheld device that emits visible laser light that is created for variety of uses from pointing out objects or locations to being pet toys. They can come in various designs and sizes emitting different colors at varying powers.

Optical Hazards

Main safety concerns are potential optical hazards:

  • startle effects
  • flash-blindness
  • glare
  • 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:

UW-Madison allows the use of Class 2 and Class 3A/R laser pointers without prior approval.

Laser Pointer Reflection

Safety Considerations

Warning Label


  • Never look directly into the laser beam.
  • Never shine a laser pointer at anyone.
  • Do not aim the laser at reflective surfaces/mirror like surfaces.
  • Never view a laser pointer using an optical instrument, such as binocular or microscope.
  • Do not purchase a laser pointer if it does not have a caution or danger sticker on it identifying its class.
  • Do not allow minors to use a laser pointer unsupervised.

For more information about laser safety, contact Laser Safety at or Radiation Safety at