Can barcode scanners damage eyes?

Whether it is a shopping mall or a restaurant, one thing is commonly seen nowadays: a barcode scanner. These barcode scanners were first used in the mid-1970s, after which they became an important tool for keeping a track record of all purchases in an organized manner.

However, Can barcode scanners damage eyes? Well, it uses laser light for scanning all the products in shopping zones and cafeterias. These are important in such crowded places as it helps in providing fast and smooth customer service, but these laser lights have harmful effects on our eyes.

Can barcode scanners damage eyes?
Can barcode scanners damage eyes?

You can avoid this damage to a great extent by simply blinking your eyes or moving your head away from the source of light. But sometimes, it becomes difficult to avoid the reflected light beam, and your eyes might have to face the long-term effects of it. Quality barcode scanner also has the capability to reduce damages.

So we are here to discuss how barcode scanners damage eyes. But before that, we will know a bit of laser light. Do not go anywhere as this will be useful, especially for people working at supermarkets and restaurants.

Let’s go!

What is Laser Light?

What is Laser Light

Laser stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. It is a device that increases the intensity of light and produces highly directional rays. This Laser light is not only used in barcode scanners but also in military targeting and weapons. Besides this, it has been heavily used in the medical and industrial fields for a long time. Now, this laser light is different from ordinary light in several ways.

First of all, laser light is monochromatic. This means that it consists of a single color or wavelength, unlike ordinary light, which consists of a combination of different colors or wavelengths.

In addition, the laser lights are highly directional, which means that the lights are emitted as a narrow beam in a specific direction. On the other hand, ordinary light from a light source, for example, a light bulb, is emitted in numerous directions away from the source.

Also, the wavelengths of laser lights are coherent, meaning they are in phase in space and time, which is not the case with ordinary light.

Can Barcode Scanners Damage Eyes?

Although it is one of the most helpful tools ever developed by humankind, it has its pros and cons. You already know the pros, as we discussed a little bit in the initial part of this article. So now we will directly go to the cons, mainly focussing on the damage caused by it to the eyes. 

The light rays coming directly or indirectly from the laser beam pose a severe threat to the eyes as they cause severe damage to the retina, cornea, and lens.

Due to the different properties of the tissues, the area damaged by laser light depends on the wavelength of light. Now we will take a look at the effects one by one. Stay tuned!

How do Barcode Scanners Damage Eyes 2

  Effect on Retina

The light rays in the visible to the near-infrared region can severely harm the retina. As a result, these wavelengths are known as the retinal hazard region. Infrared A is easily transmitted from the cornea to the lens, focusing on the retina. This causes the concentration of the incident laser light, making it even more fatal for the eyes. 

The worst thing about the retina is that it cannot restore its original state; as a result, the damage caused by the concentration of visible or infrared light becomes permanent. The most sensitive area of the retina is at the center and the macula.

Effect on Cornea and Lens

The cornea and lens are generally damaged by rays in the ultraviolet to far-infrared spectrum. Ultraviolet rays are generally concerned with the photochemical damage of the cornea. This is because there are certain sensitive portions of the cornea which absorb these radiations. Moreover, these radiations cause denaturation of the proteins and nucleic acids such as DNA and RNA.

Besides this, these light rays can cause photophobia, redness of the eye, excessive tear discharge, and stromal haze on excessive exposure. These harmful effects are generally observed after 24 hours of exposure. 

The lens generally absorbs UVA. Moreover, the lens is sensitive to the 300 nm wavelength, and the lasers operating at this wavelength can cause cataracts after prolonged exposure.

The infrared rays cause heating of the tears and tissue fluid of the cornea leading to thermal damage. Also, the cornea loses its transparency on prolonged exposure to infrared rays, and various surface irregularities occur.

How to Avoid this Damage Caused by Laser Light?

Now, as we are already aware of the problems related to barcode scanners, it’s time to focus on the solutions which are equally essential to know. You can easily avoid these effects by avoiding direct contact with these harmful rays.

For that, you can look away from the light source or blink if required. Besides this, if you wear glasses, it can also save you from the damage caused by direct exposure to laser light.

However, if you feel any discomfort in your eyes, you should contact a doctor as soon as possible and get yourself checked. Regular checkups can be effective for people greatly exposed to these harmful rays of laser light used in barcode scanners.


So coming to the end of this article, we would like to tell you that this article contains the most reliable information gathered after extensive research work. Although we have already mentioned the various damages caused by the barcode scanner to the eyes, these are extremely rare. You can easily avoid them by being extra cautious around the laser light.

So that’s it for today! We will be back with another interesting yet useful article. Till then, feel free to share your thoughts and opinions with us. We hope this article helped! Thank you for reading!

Avatar for Jaren Helms

Jaren worked for over a decade in the industry as a Package Handler. He started his career with FedEx but he later also worked with companies like USPS and Deutsche Post.

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