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What is a Infrared scanner and is it harmful to your eyes?

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  • 3 min read

IR or Infrared radiations are electromagnetic radiations that have a longer wavelength than the visible light. These are usually invisible to human eyes but can be seen under certain conditions. IR radiations are used in industries, military, medical and research. They are useful aspects of inventory maintenance and preventive maintenance. IR scanners make use of infrared radiations to scan a specific object.

We all have noticed bar-code scanners in a retail store. Bar-code scanners are IR scanners specifically designed to read and analyse bar-codes and QR codes.

Also read: How to reduce eye strain from screens

Uses of IR scanner

What is Infrared scanner and is it harmful to your eyes?Other than to scan barcodes, IR scanners are used in industries to detect the errors in machinery and are for maintenance purposes. Following are a few applications of IR scanners.

  • In the steel industry, the long sheets of steel are scanned using IR scanners to check for cracks. Steel sheets are graded according to their score in the IR test.
  • In military training and expeditions, IR scanners are used to scan the nearby objects and obstacles. IR scanners are also used in many military pieces of equipment such as night vision glasses, which use IR rays to spot the surroundings in low-light without the observer being noticed.
  • They are also used in cameras to detect and focus on the object. Many smartphones also use IR scanners for implementing the face-unlock feature.
  • Infrared telescopes are used in astronomy so that the dusty regions of the space can be penetrated.
  • In industries, infrared thermal imaging cameras are used to detect heat loss in insulated systems and overheating of electrical apparatus.

Does the IR scanner harm human eyes?

There is a big misconception that IR scanners cause damage to the human eye. The IR scanners cause no harm to the eyes when exposed for a short duration of time.

What is Infrared scanner and is it harmful to your eyes?
Photo by Ian Dooley

Several articles and blogs suggest that IR scanners are affecting the eyes and their use shall be stopped. These allegations were proven wrong when by this research where scientists exposed rabbits’ eyes high-intensity IR lights for a  duration of five to 10 minutes. The rabbits’ eyes were undamaged after the test and even after one month of the test, no damage was seen.

Another research concluded that if the eyes are exposed to IR scanners for a short duration of time, it can be beneficial to eyes. If these exposures are not long or intense enough to increase the eye’s temperature, they may initiate the self-healing of damaged eye tissues.

IR scanners are widely used in the industry and it would be very difficult to find an alternative to them. Do you think there is any other technology which can replace the IR scanners in the near future? Let us know in the comments below.

Also read: Should you sleep next to your phone? Side effects and solution

Himanshu Nimje

Himanshu Nimje