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Laser Pointers Are Still Not Toys

A boy from Greece lost much of the vision in one eye after looking directly at the light from a laser pointer several times, according to a report published this month in the New England Journal of Medicine. Unfortunately, this kind of injury is all too common.

As we’ve reported before, it can be hard to tell how powerful a laser pointer is. The power of the laser makes the difference between a harmless novelty and a blinding danger.

In the United States, the federal Food and Drug Administration regulates laser devices. The FDA provides a wealth of basic information about laserslaser safety tips for parents and guidance for manufacturers.

Products that contain lasers are generally safe when used as directed. But continuing stories of injuries suggest that many people still don’t know what’s safe. The FDA provides these tips for anyone who owns or is considering getting a laser device:

  • Never aim or shine a laser directly at anyone, including animals. The light energy from a laser aimed into the eye can be hazardous, perhaps even more than staring directly into the sun.
  • Do not aim a laser at any vehicle, aircraft, or shiny surface. Remember that the startling effect of a bright beam of light can cause serious accidents when aimed at a driver in a car, for instance, or otherwise negatively affect someone doing another activity (such as playing sports).
  • Look for an FDA-recommended IEC Class I label on children’s toy lasers. The label says “Class 1 Laser Product,” which would clearly communicate that the product is of low risk and not in a higher emission level laser class.
  • Do not buy laser pointers for children, or allow children to use them. These products are not toys.
  • Do not buy or use any laser that emits more than 5mW power, or that does not have the power printed on the labeling.
  • Immediately consult a health care professional if you or a child suspects or experiences any eye injury.


What’s Your Sun Safety IQ?

Protecting your skin is important but don’t forget your EYES!  

People who get a lot of exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays are at greater risk for skin cancer.

Sunlight is the main source of UV rays, but you don’t have to avoid the sun completely. And it would be unwise to stay inside if it would keep you from being active, because physical activity is important for good health. But getting too much sun can be harmful. There are some steps you can take to limit your exposure to UV rays.


Wear a hat

A hat with at least a 2- to 3-inch brim all around is ideal because it protects areas that are often exposed to intense sun, such as the ears, eyes, forehead, nose, and scalp. A dark, non-reflective underside to the brim can also help lower the amount of UV rays reaching the face from reflective surfaces such as water. A shade cap (which looks like a baseball cap with about 7 inches of fabric draping down the sides and back) also is good, and will provide more protection for the neck. These are often sold in sporting goods and outdoor supply stores. If you don’t have a shade cap (or another good hat) available, you can make one by wearing a large handkerchief or bandana under a baseball cap.

A baseball cap protects the front and top of the head but not the neck or the ears, where skin cancers commonly develop. Straw hats are not as protective as hats made of tightly woven fabric.


Wear sunglasses that block UV rays

UV-blocking sunglasses are important for protecting the delicate skin around the eyes, as well as the eyes themselves. Research has shown that long hours in the sun without protecting your eyes increase your chances of developing certain eye diseases.

The ideal sunglasses should block 99% to 100% of UVA and UVB rays. Before you buy, check the label to make sure they do. Labels that say “UV absorption up to 400 nm” or “Meets ANSI UV Requirements” mean the glasses block at least 99% of UV rays. Those labeled “cosmetic” block about 70% of UV rays. If there is no label, don’t assume the sunglasses provide any UV protection.

Darker glasses are not necessarily better because UV protection comes from an invisible chemical in or applied to the lenses, not from the color or darkness of the lenses. Look for an ANSI label.

Large-framed and wraparound sunglasses are more likely to protect your eyes from light coming in from different angles. Children need smaller versions of real, protective adult sunglasses – not toy sunglasses.

Ideally, all types of eyewear, including prescription glasses and contact lenses, should protect against UV rays. Some contact lenses are now made to block most UV rays. But because they don’t cover the whole eye and surrounding areas, they are not sufficient eye protection when used alone.

Remember some of the key steps you can take to protect yourself from UV rays:

  • Slip on a shirt.
  • Slop on sunscreen.
  • Slap on a hat.
  • Wrap on sunglasses to protect the eyes and skin around them.

Are you sun-safe every day?

Take the American Cancer Society’s quiz and find out:

Find out more:

July is National UV Safety Month

July is National UV Safety Month. For the health of your eyes and the integrity of your vision, it’s important to take eye sun safety seriously. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to protect your eyes from harmful UV radiation.

It’s summertime – which means spending a lot more time outdoors. But while most of us will remember to wear sunscreen to protect our skin, it may be a little harder to remember that your eyes need protection, too.

Ultraviolet (UV) rays are invisible beams of light emitted by the sun. North of the equator, they’re strongest during the late spring and early summer. These rays can cause inflammation, tissue damage, and cellular injury when they comes in contact with the delicate structures within your eyes.

UV Safety Tips to Protect Your Vision & Eye Health

  1. Whenever you go outside, be sure to wear sunscreen on your face to protect the delicate skin around your eyes and reduce your risk of skin cancer. You should also consider wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses that offer broad-spectrum protection against UV radiation. If you normally wear glasses or contacts, ask your eye doctor about getting prescription sunglasses so that you can still see clearly and protect your eyes.
  2. Avoid being outside for too long in bright sunlight, and be sure to never look directly at the sun — even during an eclipse.
  3. Know your risk. If you have light-colored irises, fair skin and/or spend a lot of time outside because of your occupation or hobby (e.g., surfing, farming, landscaping, skiing, fishing), then you may be more at risk for developing vision problems.

Remember, UV rays from the sun can still reach your body even when it’s cloudy. Keep your sunglasses handy on overcast days and especially on days when you are out on the water where glare from the sun can cause even more damage.

Find out more here:

Welcome Gina!

We are THRILLED to welcome our newest team member and Human Resources Recruiter, Gina DeMarco!

Gina is a Pennsylvania native who grew up in Johnstown. She moved to Pittsburgh about a year ago. “My favorite thing about Pittsburgh is the positivity people bring. (It’s) a progressive town.” says Gina.
Family is huge part of Gina’s life with 3 brothers and 2 (adorable) nephews. She also has “an awesome cat named baby cat!”
Please help us welcome her into our AIO family!