Verify: Are handheld scanners safe?

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — There have been reports of lasers temporarily blinding pilots in the sky or drivers on the highway, however, there are lasers we come across a lot more often in hand-held scanning devices used at stores everywhere.

Every time you check out at a grocery store, your clerk probably uses a handheld scanner to get big items or things in the bottom of your cart.

That’s when Penny Pollock, a viewer, asked if the safety of those handheld laser scanning devices had ever been checked, wondering if there were specific risks to eyes if aimed directly into them.

According to Dr. Katy Hutchins, an Optometrist with James Eye Care, Pollock isn’t coming from left field with her question.

“Since they’re visible lasers of a certain class, they are safe for the most part if you get hit in the eye momentarily. Of course, we still we want to look away as quick as possible— any laser is going to pose a risk for health to the eye.”

Dr. Hutchins said even if the laser light crosses your eye, it shouldn’t affect you because these types of scanners are regulated and deemed safe.

Still, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

“Aiming things away from customers, and keeping out of the line of “fire,” so to speak,” Dr. Hutchins said. “Ideally, we should keep that behind the desk or point it downward.”

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