Safety equipment is constantly evolving and changing and increasingly resembles sci-fi movie props. Offices with high security needs can use retinal scanners to allow employees access to their workspaces or computers. These devices scan the unique patterns of a person’s retina to ensure the right person can access restricted areas or information, and most experts agree that retinal scanners pose no risk to health or other hazards to users.
How retinal scans work
A retina scanner is exactly what it sounds like: a machine that looks under your iris to scan the retina at the base of your eyeball. Since each person’s retina is unique, the scan provides fingerprint-like security – only retinas cannot be copied. The scanner emits a low intensity beam of light to illuminate the fundus of the eye while the user looks through a small eyepiece for approximately 30 seconds. The light is not harmful to the eyes; it’s the same technology ophthalmologists use to check for glaucoma or hospitals use to detect diabetes.
Risk for the health
Retinal scans are often used in health screening procedures – to identify communicable diseases including AIDS, chicken pox and malaria – and to look for hereditary diseases including various types of cancers. The scan itself poses no threat to the eyes or your overall health, although retinal scan users have complained about the discomfort of the technology as they have to bend over and keep their eye close to the machine for 30 seconds for an analysis to be accurate. .
Applications for retinal scans
Retinal scanners are most often used in high security offices, and especially government offices. You can use a retinal scanner as an entry point to an office or as a means of unlocking a computer or machine. When setting up retinal scanners, employees must have images of their eyes taken for identification purposes — a process some people describe as uncomfortable but poses no proven health risks or hazards. Since retinal scanners need about 30 seconds to perform a scan, they are considered low-volume devices that cannot process a large number of employees at once.
Retinal scanning technology is not without its drawbacks. According to a report by the SANS Institute, users of the technology have complained that the registration process – where each person submits to a detailed retinal scan in an effort to catalog their identity – is uncomfortable and intrusive. Users fear – without scientific backing – that the infrared light used in the scan will damage their vision. Other optical recognition technologies like iris scans, which take a grayscale photo of the iris, are considered less intrusive and have been shown to be much faster.