The American Academy of Ophthalmology has determined that eyes exposed to high-powered blue lasers for even milliseconds can suffer serious damage. Doctors have long cautioned patients of pointing the light emitted from handheld laser toys directly into the eyes. This second generation of laser toys is most popular with children and hobbyists, but few owners are aware of the extreme danger that comes with even short term usage. Blue laser toys have the highest perceived entertainment value when used at night; however, the toys’ operators are also more likely to direct the light directly into the line of sight of those that are nearby.

The Academy defines a high-powered blue laser as one that has an output power of more than five milliwatts. These blue lasers are commonly used to illuminate faux weapons, replicas and other fantasy themed toys. Some blue laser light toys are powerful enough to ignite a flame, and are used to cause small objects to spontaneously combust. Most popular with adolescents and young adult males, blue laser toy are readily available to consumers of all ages.

Although never intended to be used as anything other than a source of amusement, laser toy manufacturers explicably caution users to play responsibly. Blue laser toys can cause accidental eye damage, even when they are used properly. It is fast becoming apparent that these toys represent a clear and imminent danger whether they are handled by inexperienced youngsters or cautious adults.

Within the study based on cases treated by Saudi Arabia’s King Khaled Eye Specialist Hospital, fourteen of the patients examined had documented injuries. Four suffered a full-thickness macular hole, or a break in the area of the eye that perceives central vision. Damage to the retina can lead to permanent vision loss. Thankfully, all patients are reportedly making a full recovery. This small scale yet revealing medical study only tracked cases from 2012 until 2013, so there may be many more unreported injury cases that have not been accounted for.

Other injuries included macular puckers, hemorrhages to various layers of the retina, and retinal cavities.  Of the 14, ten individuals required invasive surgeries to rectify the damage. These dangerous lasers are often labeled as toys, and as such, the number of documented injuries has risen significantly in the age group between 11 and 30. All users of blue laser toys are encouraged to utilize them in a safe manner to help avoid unintended ocular injuries.

Be safe this holiday season.  Avoid dangerous blue laser “toys” at all costs.  For more information on Orlando ophthalmology, visit rmseye.com.

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