A group of doctors has published a research paper documenting the case of a Greek boy who had his retina severely damaged by a laser pointer. The study appeared this week in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The boy’s parents first found out that there was something wrong when the boy started complaining about vision loss in his left eye. He was taken to an ophthalmologist who found that his vision decreased in the eye.
The doctor also spotted a large hole in the boy’s retina. Parents suspected that a green laser pointer the boy was routinely playing with might be at fault. Because the hole was quite large, medics did not recommend surgery.
Laser pointers are hazardous to health especially when handled by small kids. In some countries, the sale of these devices with a power greater than 1 milliwatts (mW) is strictly forbidden. However, in other areas, more powerful laser pointers are commercially available.
Laser Pointers in the U.S.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration thinks the devices are harmless if the power limits are respected and users don’t point them at their eyes. In the U.S., laser pointers with a power of 5 milliwatts are allowed. More powerful laser-based devices are not considered laser pointers.
The FDA advises buyers not to point lasers at their eyes or allow kids to play with them. The agency explained that the harm done by a laser pointer to the eye can be greater than the harm done by staring at the sun.
FDA experts are concerned that laser pointers are used unsafely. Most accidents involved violet, blue, and green laser pointers. Also, some users tweak the pointers to be more powerful, which can also be hazardous.
Image Source: Flickr
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