Health officials in Australia have a warning for parents around the world: laser pointers are not toys.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported that a Tasmanian teenager had lost 75 percent of his vision as a result of shining a laser pointer in his eyes while playing with it.
As a result, optometrists are warning parents of the dangers associated with something that many consider just a toy.
Optometrist Ben Armitage was called by the 14-year-old boy’s family physician to investigate why the boy was having difficulty with seeing. It soon became clear.
“He came in to see me on the Friday night he’d got a hold of a laser pen and, unfortunately, shined it in his eyes for a very brief period of time,” Armitage stated.
The doctor photographed the teen’s eyes and discovered he had permanently damaged the back of his eyes by burning his retinas near an area called macular.
Even though the teenager was not feeling any pain in the moment of the incident, his vision was damaged almost instantly. The worst thing, in this case, is that the boy’s eyesight cannot be improved with glasses.
Because his eyes have been burned near the macular, his blindness was most likely permanent. Although Armitage was optimistic that some vision might be restored after the swelling goes down, the teen will likely live with only 25 percent vision for the rest of his life.
Optometry Tasmania Chief Executive Geoff Squibb warned parents to avoid purchasing laser pointers for their children in the run up for Christmas this year.
TheFood and Drug Administration’s Center for Devices and Radiological health conducted a study, which showed that even a 5 mW laser could cause damage, and those who are labeled in the 3-5mW range have no reported cases of eye damage.
Although the majority of laser pointers sold in the United States are deemed safe by Food and Drug Administration guidelines, some that are imported improperly do not abide by federal guidelines. For this reason, health officials warn parents against allowing their children to use them.
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