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LASER and laser pointers

The eye is one of our five important senses. It is very delicate and very susceptible to trauma from the environment.

About Laser and Laser Pointers
  1. LASER is Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation
  2. Laser is a form of highly focused energy that has different types and power settings. Some lasers are invisible and some are visible with colors. Laser is used in many industrial, technical and medical devices.
  3. Laser products are classified for safety purposes according to the potential hazards to the eye or skin. The least hazardous is Class 1 (lowest power) and the most hazardous level is Class 4 (highest power).
  4. The use of laser in pointers has been popularized in recent years. The World Health Organization (WHO) stated that "laser pointers higher than Class 2 [Class 2 lasers emit visible light and are limited to a maximum output power of 1-milliwatt (mW)] are considered too powerful for general use because they may cause eye injury".
  5. There are also issues of mislabeling (usually understating) the laser power in commercially available laser pointers.
  6. There are numerous reports of eye injury and permanent vision loss even with low power laser pointers in cases of incorrect use e.g. children playing with laser pointers. Retinal injury is possible at intrabeam viewing duration exceeding 0.25 second, even with Class 2 laser products.
  7. Laser pointers injury to eye can lead to permanent vision loss.

Safe Use of Laser Pointers
  1. Never aim laser pointers at the eye.
  2. Never look directly into a laser beam.
  3. Check out the power and quality of laser pointers before use. Adhere to WHO recommendations.
  4. Laser beam reflected from shiny or reflective surfaces can lead to eye injury even if the laser pointer is not pointed directly at the eye.
  5. Keep laser pointers out of reach of young children.

References:
  1. Barkana Y, Belkin M. Laser Eye Injuries. Surv Ophthalmol. 2000 May-Jun; 44(6):459-78.
  2. Torp‐Pedersen, Tobias ; Welinder, Lotte ; Justesen, Birgitte ; Christensen, Ulrik Correll ; Solborg Bjerrum, Søren ; La Cour, Morten ; Saunte, Jon Peiter. Laser pointer maculopathy – on the rise? Acta Ophthalmologica, November 2018, Vol.96(7), pp.749-754
  3. Henderson, A. Roy (Andrew Roy), Schulmeister K. Laser Safety. Bristol ; Philadelphia : Institute of Physics c2004
  4. International Standard IEC 60825-1. Safety of laser products- Part 1: Equipment classification, requirements and user’s guide
  5. Electrical and Mechanical Services Department, The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Safety Guidelines for Laser Products https://www.emsd.gov.hk/en/other_regulatory_services/laser_safety/publications/safety_guidelines_for_laser_products/index.html.
  6. WHO Information Fact Sheets. Health risks from the use of laser pointers. Fact Sheet No 202, 1998. http://www.who.int/uv/resources/fact/fs202laserpointers.pdf. Accessed 07/08/2019
  7. Birtel JM, Harmening WU, Krohne TG, Holz F, Charbel Issa P, Herrmann P. Retinal injury following laser pointer exposure: a systematic review and case series. Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2017;114:831–7.
  8. Moseley H, Tulley FM, McGhee CN. The potential hazard of laser pointers. Lasers Med Sci 18(1):63–67
  9. Linton et. Al 2019, Eye. Linton, E ; Walkden, A ; Steeples, L R ; Bhargava, A ; Williams, C ; Bailey, C ; Quhill, F M ; Kelly, S P. Retinal burns from laser pointers: a risk in children with behavioural problems. Eye (London, England), March 2019, Vol.33(3), pp.492-504
  10. Turaka K, Bryan JS, Gordon AJ, Reddy R, Kwong HM Jr., et al. Laser pointer induced macular damage: case report and mini review. Int Ophthalmol. 2012;32:293–7
  11. Hadler J Tobares EL, Dowell M. Random testing reveals excessive power in commercial laser pointers. J Laser Appl. 2013;


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