Some Internet-bought Laser Pointers May Damage the Retina

Swiss Boy Damages Retina with Internet-bought Laser Pointer

In the September issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, a case was described in which a teen-aged Swiss boy significantly damaged his retina with a laser pointer purchased over the internet.   The boy was playing with the laser pointer when the beam hit his eyes several times.   Unfortunately, the boy didn’t seek treatment until a few weeks after the event.    Following treatment, the boy did regain most of his vision although permanent scarring of his retina did result.

In the U.S., laser pointers meant for teaching and presentations are regulated to an output of 5 mW.    The one purchased by the Swiss boy was 150 mW.   The article suggests that caution be used when purchasing laser pointers over the internet.   Make sure to verify that the output meets FDA regulations—as higher powered pointers, meant mostly for research, can cause tissue damage and potentially long-term vision loss.

Keep your eyes safe !