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Occupational Vision Hazards: Infrared Radiation and the Eye

radiationThe heating effect of the Sun in the form of infrared rays spans the wavelengths 780-10,000nm. As with ultraviolet radiation at the other end of the visible spectrum it is usually sub-divided into three regions, IR-A 780-1,400nm, IR-B 1,400-3,000nm and IR-C 3,000-10,000nm. The Earth's atmosphere tends to absorb the far IR-C band though man-made sources exist and all three are hazardous to ocular tissue and other biological material. In the occupational setting, any work involving high temperature furnaces such as glass-making or the iron and steel industries are areas where risk assessments for IR exposure to eyes needs to be taken seriously. Many lasers emit IR, in particular ones used in medical fields such as the neodymium YAG laser emitting in the IR-A bands and the CO2 laser, which emits in the IRC range. Arc lamps and any radiant heater also emits IR.

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