Laser Pointer Retinal Injury May Cause Irreversible Vision Loss: Study

Amid increasing concerns about the eye injury risks associated with laser pointers, a new report highlights a several cases where young boys suffered severe retinal damage, indicating that use of the devices among children should be discouraged due to the risk of permanent harm to themselves and others.

In the September 2016 issue of the medical journal Pediatrics, researchers indicate that laser pointer retinal injuries often lead to irreversible vision loss and other eye damage, indicating that legislation and laws are needed to better control the sale and use of the devices.

Researchers described four male children between the ages of 9 and 16 years old who came to a single medical center with complaints of vision loss and blind spots within hours or days after playing with a green or red laser pointer. In one case, a boy looked at the reflection of the laser in a mirror, and two other boys pointed the laser at themselves. The fourth child suffered a retinal injury during a game of laser pointer “war” with a friend.

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The boys suffered a laser retinal injury to one or both eyes, due to the mishandling of the pointers. At least three of the children were left with potentially irreversible vision loss, which may have been avoided with safe handling of the lasers.

“Laser pointers are readily available and appropriate use of laser pointers in pediatric populations must be emphasized due to the potential irreversible retinal injury,” wrote authors of the case report. “Health professionals, school teachers, and parents should raise public awareness about this emerging public health issue by educating children about the dangers of laser pointers.”

Eye injuries sustained from laser pointers are concerning given the widespread availability of lasers in many toys and retail shops. The tissue at the back of the eye connects to the brain and cannot be regenerated after injury. Thus great care must be taken to avoid the eye injury in the first place.

Parents should also be wary of where they purchase laser pointers, as the power rating may not be listed on some devices while others may list the rating incorrectly. A recent study indicated many laser pointers sold in stores nationally emit light beyond the legal limit. Most of those tested emitted light 51 to 127 times over the 5 milliwatt government safety limit.

The FDA issued a warning about laser pointer risks last year, urging consumers to be aware of the safety hazards associated with laser pointers, including blindness, skin irritation, and burns.


  • JoseDecember 15, 2020 at 3:35 am

    Laser to the eye

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