Every household has something that can cause serious harm to your young children. It’s not something you’d suspect of being dangerous. And it’s not button batteries. But as you’re about to find out, it can damage your children’s eyes severely. And as you’ll hear, this 14-year-old boy from Australia lost 75 percent of his vision because he was having too much fun with this common toy. It’s something many cat owners use to play with their animals. But they are not meant as toys – for this very reason. They can cause blindness if used incorrectly. If you have a laser pointer at home, you need to keep them away from your children before they get permanent vision loss like this unfortunate child who shined the laser into his retina and burned it.
Although he was blinding himself, the boy had no idea it was bad for him. Not because his parents had never told him not to do it – they had warned him – but because as he was blinding himself, it was not causing any pain. So with the laser pointing into his eye, he didn’t know it was causing damage because it wasn’t hurting him as he was doing it.
But because of his foolish mistake, the damage done to his eyes can never be fixed. That means he will need to learn to navigate the world with 75 percent vision loss for the rest of his days.
Optometrists have remarked that when the swelling does go down, he may have some of his vision naturally restored. They don’t know if he’ll only be able to tell the difference between light and dark, shadows and bright spots, or if he’ll be able to see color as well.
You can buy laser pointers that won’t cause the same kind of damaget his 14-year-old Australian boy suffered. The FDA warns that lasers that shoot out more than 5mW (milliwatt) of power can damage your eyes for life. But if your laser pointer only has a power density of about 1mW that means it is already brighter than the sun. And if you were enjoying the eclipse this past August, you know that staring at the sun can damage your eyes.
Some countries including the United Kingdom limit laser pointers to about 1mW or fewer. This helps protect people’s eyes and other people who get the lasers pointed at them.
While the 5mW laser is still considered safe for public use – be careful and don’t put it in anyone’s face. If you have a laser pointer at home, make sure you know how powerful it is. And if it has a dangerous level, keep it away from kids.
Fortunately, most laser pointers that are available will cause only temporary damage. But this 14-year-old boy got his hands on an extra powerful one and caused permanent damage on his own eyes.
Remember, laser pointers are not toys. Do not shine them in your own eyes or anyone else’s. You might wind up like this young boy who could be blinded for the rest of his life. Beware when you’re using them and keep them away from others.
Did you know that laser pointers had the potential to be this dangerous?