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Two other topics that should not be overlooked are laser safety and caring for the optics in your microscope. Here is a summary of cautions to take when using lasers and light microscopes. 15.1 Laser Safety • Read one or more source books on laser safety. • Be aware of the different types of lasers, their damage thresholds, and the risks of ocular damage, skin damage, and fire associated with each type of laser. • Be aware of the advantages (ocular protection) and disadvantages (no knowledge of position of the laser beam) of laser safety goggles. • When designing a laser system on an optical table be sure that the laser beam is not at eye height. • Be aware of the fire danger with lasers. Most materials in the clinic are flammable. 15.2 How to Clean Optics • Optics should be cleaned at the following times: when there is a power loss; at regular maintenance intervals; when a laser cavity is opened; when a new set of mirrors is installed; when new optics are received. • Learn how to correctly clean a microscope objective prior to and after use. • Particles of dust can severely degrade the image quality of optical components. • Improper cleaning of a microscope objective will cause microscopic scratches that will permanently degrade the image quality. Never use anything but lens-cleaning paper with spectroscopic-grade acetone and methanol. Note that these solvents can solubilize oil from your skin and transfer it to the surface of the optical element. • Use a dust cover made from a conductive material to shield the microscope from dust.
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