A comprehensive resource for safe and responsible laser use

UK: Professor develops laser-absorbing strip for police face shields; "several thousand" used in Northern Ireland

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has acquired “several thousand” tinted strips for use on riot control helmet face shields, according to a November 25 2015 article in Police Oracle. If an officer is faced with a protester equipped with a laser pen, the officer can lower his or her head so they are looking through the “absorbing filter strip”, to reduce the glare and potential eye damage from the laser light.

The strip was developed by John Tyrer of Loughborough University, professor of optical instrumentation. He was commissioned by the Home Office and the PSNI who were concerned about increasing numbers of demonstrators aiming laser pens at police.

The light distracts officers and breaks their positions, according to Tyrer. The orange-tinted film is low-cost and simple to apply.

Tyrer laser absorbing filter strip - clear
Tyrer demonstrates how light from a laser pen goes through the clear part of the face visor, causing glare and potential eye injury to an officer.

Tyrer laser absorbing filter strip - absorbing
But if the officer tilts his or her head down so the laser goes through the strip, laser light is absorbed and does not present a hazard.


Testing by Public Health England, and real-life usage in Northern Ireland, showed the anti-laser strip to be “very effective”.

Tyrer has also suggested that the same film applied to glasses can protect pilots during takeoffs and landings from any laser activity that might be occurring.

From the Loughborough News Blog and Police Oracle

Northern Ireland: "Laser Lunacy" drama visits schools to warn students not to aim lasers at aircraft

Belfast International Airport is trying to reach local youths to warn them against aiming lasers at aircraft. The airport worked with Arts & Business to develop a dramatic performance called “Laser Lunacy”. The 20-minute show will be performed for over 2,000 students in six Belfast-area schools.

According to an October 19 2016 story in the Irish News, the performance depicts an aircraft crew member being blinded, which leads to a crash that injures 17 people. The subsequent investigation highlights how a criminal conviction can ruin a young person’s life.

After the performance there is a question-and-answer session to reinforce the message.

BIA’s Jaclyn Coulter told the newspaper “We have a very serious message to get across to young people and we thought that the most effective way of doing that was through drama…. [W]e are delighted with the response we have had both from schools and pupils. We want this practice to be stamped out. It is not fun. It is not a game.”

There were 35 aircraft illumination incidents last year, and 16 thus far in 2016.

From the Irish News

Northern Ireland: PHA warns against buying laser pointers as children's Christmas presents

The Northern Ireland Public Health Agency issued a warning to parents about the dangers of laser pointers to children’s eyes. According to the Belfast Telegraph, PHA spoke out after the devices left a number of children with eye damage over recent months.

Eibhlin McLoone, a consultant ophthalmologist with the Belfast HSC Trust, has treated several of the children and said the devices "are not toys".

"Sadly, I have seen children who have eye damage because they have played with a laser pointer and unfortunately once the eye has been damaged by a laser pen the damage is irreversible," she said.

"Due to the risk of permanent visual impairment, it is vital that the public is aware of the risks associated with laser pointers and that these devices are never viewed as toys."

Ms McLoone added: "Unfortunately, once the laser burn has happened there is no treatment available to reverse it."

From the Belfast Telegraph