Laser Pointing Toys May Cause Severe Eye Injury

Green laser pointer

Laser pointing devices are usually seen in classrooms as a teaching aid and are generally known to be safe. Unfortunately, certain laser pointers may severely damage the human eye, as one 15-year-old boy experienced.

The child purchased a laser “toy” online which he believed would be effective at balloon popping, burning paper, and teasing his siblings. However, while attempting to create a “laser show” in the mirror, he looked directly into the laser reflection several times. Due to that, his eyesight was immediately hindered and he was not seeing clearly. Since he was worried about being punished, he refused to explain his problem to his parents for longer than two weeks. His vision was so poor at this time that he could only see 3 feet ahead of him in his left eye, and his right eye was 20/50 vision (he could see at 20 feet what normal people could see from 50).

After receiving an exam, it was discovered he had severely scarred his eye tissue.

Four months later, his vision remained impaired, but had improved to 20/32 while only a small scar remained.

Investigating further, common laser pointers should have a maximum output of 5 mW and has been proven harmless due to blink reflexes within the human eye. The laser this boy purchased online measured 150 mW.

Many laser pointing toys are available for purchase on the Internet and some produce outputs over 500 mW. Lasers with output that high will cause immediate and severe damage.