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Laser pointers can damage eyes

10th June 2010

Doctors have warned that hand-held laser pointers can cause serious eye damage if used inappropriately.

Eye2

After treating a teenager who had suffered burns and retinal damage from having a laser shone into his eyes, the staff from the Royal Liverpool Hospital and Manchester Eye Hospital decided to speak out over their concerns.

It has also prompted a warning from the Health Protection Agency which had received similar reports.

The HPA say only pointers with limited power should be sold.

A spokesman said: "The Health Protection Agency has not been made aware of any injuries to the surface of the eye caused by laser pointers - such injuries are usually caused by persistent rubbing of the eye after the laser beam has been shone into the eye.

"Clinicians have, however, made the HPA aware that scotomas - retinal injuries causing abnormal vision - have been caused by high power green laser pointers.

"The HPA recommends that laser pointers generally available to the public should be restricted to less than 1 milliwatt as no such injuries have been reported at this power."

The doctor who treated the teenager, Dr Kimia Ziahosseini, said the youth’s vision had now returned to normal.

But he added: “He is at risk of developing problems later on in life as a result of the damage to his retina.”

The Royal National Institute of Blind People said laser pointers are deceptive because they look safe but they can be very dangerous, particularly ones available on the internet which may possess a strong beam.

 

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