An optometrist in Australia issued a warning to all parents that laser pointers are not toys after a teen did permanent damage to his vision.
The 14-year-old burned the retina at the back of the eye near an area called the macular after beaming a laser pointer into his eyes. Although the boy felt no pain, he almost immediately lost his vision.
Optometrist Ben Armitage said that the boy’s vision is “down to about 25 per cent of what we call 20/20 vision” and that it would be unlikely the boy’s vision will recover. That means no glasses or surgery will correct the problem.
Although the power output of laser pointers and laser pens available to the general public in North America and the European Union is regulated and limited in order to prevent accidental damage to the retina of human eyes, these regulations vary by country. Unfortunately, there are a number of laser pointers available for purchase online that can be capable of significantly higher power output than the pointers typically available in stores.
The markings on theses devices and the packaging are often misleading. Output powers may be considerably higher than marked and pose a serious safety risk.
Another child, a 10-year-old named William in the U.K., suffered permanent scarring to his eyes from a laser pen his mother bought over the Internet. The light accidentally beamed into his eyes and specialists thought he might go blind. Thankfully, his vision healed.
The output powers of the laser pen that hurt William was between 40 to 80 times more powerful than are deemed safe for general public use.
Laser pointers above 1 milliwatt pose a danger to and should not be used by children or around pets. Parents are cautioned not to leave the devices out where children can reach them and children should be warned off them if they are in the house.
And I thought staring at the sun was dangerous! For one Australian boy, his vision has been seriously affected for the rest of his life.
Please share this important information with your friends and the parents you know.