AOP expresses concerns about laser use

The AOP has produced a video on the sight-threatening issues relating to the inappropriate use of lasers

23 Feb 2016 by Emily McCormick, Laurence Derbyshire

AOP expresses concerns about laser useThe AOP has expressed concern over the inappropriate use of lasers and how they can cause serious damage to the eyes, as well as endanger lives if a pilot or driver is subjected to a laser attack.

In recent weeks a number of laser-related incidents have made headline news, including details of how a Virgin Atlantic plane was forced to return to Heathrow so the co-pilot could be examined after a laser beam was shone into the cockpit.

Speaking about the Association’s concerns about lasers, clinical and regulatory officer at the AOP, Henry Leonard, said: “We have been concerned for some time that inappropriate use of lasers can cause serious damage to the eyes, resulting in permanent loss of vision and also endanger passengers if, for example, a pilot or driver is the subject of a laser attack.

“The danger comes from direct viewing of the concentrated beam of light which can then burn the retina at the back of the eye. The effect of looking at a laser can also cause someone to feel dazzled, similar to an extreme case of glare that some motorists may experience on the roads.”

In the same week, the story of an eight-year-old boy featured in the national press as it was reported that he might be left with permanent eye damage after accidentally shooting a laser beam into his eye while playing with a pointer that he bought at a school Christmas fair. His mother has now started a petition calling for the ban of unlicensed pointers and to put regulations on usage of them in the UK. 

Mr Leonard added: “As a wider issue, it’s important for parents to know that laser pointers - sometimes referred to as laser pens – are not toys. There are a range of different strengths of lasers freely on sale to the public, all of which pose a potential risk to the user and others. Whatever the strength, laser pens should never be aimed at people’s eyes, or at vehicles or aircraft.”

The AOP has produced a video sharing its concerns about the inappropriate use of lasers, which can be watched below.


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