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Hand Held Laser Pointers— A Danger to Your Eyes

As kids, we used them to disturb a class presentation, tease our pets, or re-enact Star Wars. Little did we know, these handheld tools can cause serious eye damage. There has been a recent increase in patients with severe eye injuries (including retinal burns, burry vision, and even blindness) from laser pointers. These small tools are powerful and many don’t recognize the serious risk of eye damage if the laser comes in direct contact with your eye.

Because these “toys” are easy to get, there is a high risk of children misusing them. Improper use has affected the vision of pilots, vehicle operators, and the general public. When exposed to a strong laser, the natural protective mechanisms of the eye (like blinking) are helpless.

To avoid damage to yourself and others, follow these guidelines:

  • Never aim a laser pointer in someone’s direction.
  • Keep laser pointers out of reach of children.
  • When purchasing a laser pointer, ensure the product is properly labelled (the label should include the manufacturers name and date of manufacture, a warning of exposure to laser radiation, and a class designation).
  • If you’re ever exposed to a laser pointer and begin experiencing eye irritation, visit your doctor of optometry immediately. 
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