With the advent of such systems as the airborne laser and advanced tactical laser, high-energy lasers that use 1315-nm wavelengths in the near-infrared band will soon present a new laser safety challenge to armed forces and civilian populations. Experiments in nonhuman primates using this wavelength have demonstrated a range of ocular injuries, including corneal, lenticular, and retinal lesions as a function of pulse duration. American National Standards Institute (ANSI) laser safety standards have traditionally been based on experimental data, and there is scant data for this wavelength. We are reporting minimum visible lesion (MVL) threshold measurements using a porcine skin model for two different pulse durations and spot sizes for this wavelength. We also compare our measurements to results from our model based on the heat transfer equation and rate process equation, together with actual temperature measurements on the skin surface using a high-speed infrared camera. Our MVL-ED50 thresholds for long pulses (350 µs) at 24-h postexposure are measured to be 99 and 83 Jcm–2 for spot sizes of 0.7 and 1.3 mm diam, respectively. Q-switched laser pulses of 50 ns have a lower threshold of 11 Jcm–2 for a 5-mm-diam top-hat laser pulse.
To properly assess the retinal hazards from several lasers using multiple wavelengths, the retinal effects of 10-second laser irradiation from 532 and 860 nm were determined in non-human primates for several different power combinations of these wavelengths. A total of 12 eyes were exposed using four different ratios of power levels to determine the contribution to the damage levels from each wavelength. The data are compared to the calculations resulting from use of the currently accepted method of predicting hazards from simultaneous laser. The ANSI-Z136 - 2000 standard was used to calculate the combined maximum permissible exposure (MPE) and for comparison with the measured visible lesion thresholds, i.e., ED<sub>50</sub>s.
The U.S. Dept. of Defense (DOD) is currently developing and testing a number of High Energy Laser (HEL) weapons systems. DOD range safety officers now face the challenge of designing safe methods of testing HEL's on DOD ranges. In particular, safety officers need to ensure that diffuse and specular reflections from HEL system targets, as well as direct beam paths, are contained within DOD boundaries. If both the laser source and the target are moving, as they are for the Airborne Laser (ABL), a complex series of calculations is required and manual calculations are impractical. Over the past 5 years, the Optical Radiation Branch of the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL/HEDO), the ABL System Program Office, Logicon-RDA, and Northrup-Grumman, have worked together to develop a computer model called teh Laser Range Safety Tool (LRST), specifically designed for HEL reflection hazard analyses. The code, which is still under development, is currently tailored to support the ABL program. AFRL/HEDO has led an LRST Validation and Verification (V&V) effort since 1998, in order to determine if code predictions are accurate. This paper summarizes LRST V&V efforts to date including: i) comparison of code results with laboratory measurements of reflected laser energy and with reflection measurements made during actual HEL field tests, and ii) validation of LRST's hazard zone computations.
With the advent of future weapons systems that employ high energy lasers, the 1315 nm wavelength will present a new laser safety hazard to the armed forces. Experiments in non-human primates using this wavelength have demonstrated a range of ocular injuries, including corneal, lenticular and retinal lesions, as a function of pulse duration and spot size at the cornea. To improve our understanding of this phenomena, there is a need for a mathematical model that properly
predicts these injuries and their dependence on appropriate exposure parameters. This paper describes the use of a finite difference model of laser thermal injury in the cornea and retina. The model was originally developed for use with shorter wavelength laser irradiation, and as such, requires estimation of several key parameters used in the computations. The predictions from the model are compared to the experimental data, and conclusions are drawn
regarding the ability of the model to properly follow the published observations at this wavelength.
Though allowable (safe) energy doses of pulsed laser radiation have been determined in the central retina, the sensitivity of the peripheral retina to damage must also be assessed. We used results from ray-tracing in an eye model to estimate laser spot size at the retina and recent thermal model computations of damage thresholds to predict off-axis retinal injury from laser irradiation. The predictions were made for threshold exposures with a 532-nm, 10-ns, Nd:YAG laser beam that filled the dilated pupil (7-mm diameter). Results were compared to previously published measured energy doses at the cornea needed to produce a minimally visible lesion (MVL) in the peripheral retina of rhesus subjects. We predicted the threshold for injury at the macula, and at selected portions of peripheral retina out to 60 degree(s) from the fovea. Both predictions and measured data were normalized to their respective macula values. Normalized predicted thresholds in the peripheral retina increased as a function of angular distance from the macula. This varied from the measured data which, on the other hand, were relatively insensitive to angular position in the peripheral retina. The difference is likely due to improvements in methods of assessing retinal injury that have been incorporated into the model.
A deterministic approach to laser hazard assessment is used in most laser safety standards. Personnel are protected from hazardous laser radiation is by defining a space withm which the direct, reflected, or scattered radiation during laser operation exceeds the safe Maximum Permissible Exposure level. Controlling access to this space insures safety. Although this approach has satisfied the commercial and industrial laser communities for many years, it may not be applicable to the highpower (up to megawatt) laser systems currently being developed by the US military. These systems will have extremely long laser hazard distances, and controlling access to this space will be unrealistic, especially when the likelihood of hazardous human exposure is low. For these situations, an alternative analytical approach that estimates both the level of risk and the degree of risk reduction achievable by controlling key contributors can be applied. Analytic risk assessment tools are finding increasing application in a wide variety of hazard assessments, m both industrial and commercial situations. These tools use scientific data, assumptions, and mathematical models to estimate the likelihood, frequency, and severity of harm to people exposed to the hazard. This paper will discusses application of such tools to laser safety and considers the uncertainties associated with probability density functions applied to key factors such as atmospheric scmtillation, reflected radiation, population distribution and ocular injury.