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Spike in laser pointer eye injuries

German scientists question the wisdom of giving young people “practically unimpeded access” to the devices

26 Mar 2018 by Selina Powell

German researchers have called for tighter regulation of laser pointers after they documented 111 cases of “acute and permanent” injury related to the devices.

Writing in Deutsches Ärzteblatt International, scientists described how the spectrum of injuries from laser pointers ranged from focal photoreceptor defects to macular foramina and retinal hemorrhages associated with loss of visual acuity and central scotoma.

Best corrected visual acuity in more than half of patients was less than 20/40.

The authors highlighted that treatment options following laser pointer-related trauma are limited.

They observed that access to laser pointers, including high-performance devices, is “practically unimpeded” through the internet.

“Society at large now needs to be more aware of the danger posed by these devices, particularly to children and adolescents,” the authors conclude.

In March, The Belfast Telegraph reported that planes landing at City of Derry Airport were being targeted with laser pointers.

Last year, UK ophthalmologists revealed that there have been more than 150 eye injuries from laser pointers since 2013, with the vast majority of injuries involving children. 

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