Kids play with everything, including things they are not supposed to. But, what harm can happen from a laser pointer? Well, depends on the laser pointer.
By definition, a laser pointer is a hand-held device that produces a focused beam of colored light. Looking directly into a laser pointer allows the entire output of the laser’s energy to be focused into the eye. Even though a 5mW laser pointer is not as strong as a 60watt light bulb, a light bulb is not rated on the amount of light they produce, but the amount of power they use. Also, light bulbs produce light in all directions – the further away you are, the dimmer it will become. The same cannot be said about lasers.
Laser pointers distributed in the US have a maximum power output of 3-5mW. However, some sold outside the US may have been manufactured under different regulations. Some found in Eastern Europe and China have been found up to 5x what is permitted in the United States. Anything over 5mW is harmful.
Laser pointers can cause damage to the retina. Possible effects are afterimage, flash blindness, and glare. But, what about permanent damage? Well, pointing one directly into the eye can cause a blind spot in your vision. One said, “If I close my right eye and I look straight, I can’t see your nose, but I can see your mouth, and your earrings.” Damage to the retina can cause blind spots in parts of the eye or complete blindness in one eye.
Parents – avoid letting kids play with these harmful lasers. If your child tells you they are seeing spots for longer than a minute, or can’t see at all then take them to the closest eye doctor. Dr Tavel has 20 convenient locations around Indiana and always accepts walk in appointments!