Optometrists from Australia have issued a warning to all parents: laser pointers ARE NOT toys.
This comes after Hobart Optometrist, Ben Armitage, was asked to investigate vision problems in a 14-year-old boy. Armitage says, “He came into see me and on the Friday night he’d got hold of a laser pen and unfortunately shined it in his eyes for a very brief period of time.”
The result? The boy’s vision is now only 25 percent from what is considered 20/20 vision, effectively removing 75% of his vision.
“He’s actually managed to burn the retina at the back of the eye near an area called the macular.” – Armitage
Because the macular is an area for a lot of detailed vision, the effects on vision loss were exaggerated. The boy reported feeling no pain at the time, but started to immediately experience vision loss. For Armitage, he’s hoping that a reduction in swelling will help the boy restore some of his vision.
The most unfortunate part? The damage cannot be fixed…not even with glasses!
The laser burns occurred in areas (in picture above) where the boy will never have vision again. Imagine you have a camera and the sensor is damaged. No matter what lens you put on thereafter, there will always be an area where the vision is greatly affected in the camera. The eye is the same way. Since the boy damaged his macula, glasses will not make a difference.
For the boy, the area of vision that was affected was the central vision, which lets you focus straight ahead, allowing you to read, drive, and see details sharply. No surgery, glasses, or anything can restore this boy’s central vision. Armitage’s hope is that more vision will be restored as the swelling decreases.
Ultimately, as a result of this incident, Optometry Tasmania has warned parents not to view laser pointers as toys.