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[Laser pointers are not toys; eye injury with permanent loss of visual acuity].

Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd 2014, vol. 158, issue 0

In the nineteen-nineties, there was much hype in the European media about presumed laser pointer maculopathy. However, the recent introduction of more powerful and therefore more dangerous laser pointers and their easy availability on the internet necessitates vigilance on the issue. This is an urgent matter, as here we report three cases of proven maculopathy due to an unsafe laser pointer. Three boys aged 13, 9 and 12 years used an unsafe laser pointer as a toy and looked repeatedly into the pointer, resulting in a permanent reduction in visual acuity due to macular damage. Laser pointers are not designed to be children's toys or instruments to annoy people in a crowd. Health authorities and the ophthalmic community should be aware of the potential danger of improper use of high-output laser pointers and warn the general public before the widespread availability of unsafe laser pointers and consequently laser pointer-induced macular damage becomes a true social problem.

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