A high-pulse-energy eye-safe laser at 1552 nm is effectually generated by an intracavity Nd:YLF/KTP optical parametric oscillator (OPO) with the help of the thermally induced polarization switching. The polarization characteristics of the c-cut Nd:YLF laser at 1053 nm in the continuous-wave (CW) and Q-switched operation are comprehensively investigated. We experimentally verify the thermally induced birefringence can lead to a polarization switching between the mutually orthogonal components of the fundamental pulses. Consequently, an efficient intracavity nonlinear frequency conversion can be achieved in an optically isotropic laser crystal without any additional polarization control. With this finding, the pulse energy and peak power of the compact Nd:YLF/KTP eye-safe laser under an incident pump power of 12.7 W and a pulse repetition rate of 5 kHz are up to 306 μJ and 4 kW, respectively.