There was a case study that published in the British Medical Journal in which 44 year old public bus driver got his eyes injured due to laser toy that flashed in the rear view mirror several times.
Immediately after the incident, the driver reported blurred vision caused by injury in macular region and doctors were unable to reverse the effect. It is one in a million cases that shows the hazards of toy laser pointers that are common toy in almost every kid’s hand.
Lasers and how they work
Laser is the term used to describe amplification of light through stimulation of radiation emission. They are powerful sources of light that are able to travel thousands of miles and cut through harder objects fairly easily. Laser light beams possess the same wavelength and strong concentrated energy. Most of the time when human eye comes in contact with laser light, they show flashing reflex that stops the contact without any damage. However, when a person continuously make contact with the laser light, it may cause burns and injury to retina, exactly what has happened in the case of bus driver.
Red, green, blue and violet
Human eyes work in magnificent ways responding quickly to some colors and delaying the response in the others. Studies indicated that eye quickly detect the danger emitting from red and green lights and show flashing reflex but with the blue and violet light, the response become slow hence making these lights more dangerous to the eyes and causing long-lasting injury.
Intensity, time and distance
The three factors determine how serious a laser light could be for the person who is in direct contact with the light. All laser beams are considered equally damaging yet the general behavior is; the stronger the laser, the closer the person is to the beam, and the longer the laser touch the same area of the eye, the greater the possibility of eye injury. Keeping these facts in mind can reduce the risk of fatal injuries.
Though people do not really take the claim serious that a toy laser can induce a fatal injury to the eye, the evidence in the case of bus driver points otherwise. Most of these devices are made up of cheap material without the proper precautions, increasing the chance of damage by many folds. The higher the output power of the toy’s laser, the more likely it will cause serious eye injuries and burns both temporarily and permanently. The severity of the matter can be assessed from the fact that the US Food and Drug Authority regulate the laser devices and require these to be labelled with a warning regarding radiations and other hazards with disclosure of laser’s output power. With all these measures, the information remains missing or succinct on the toy lasers.
The FDA, in regard to safety from toy laser devices, recommends that
- One must not aim or point the laser pointer at anybody
- It is recommended that parents do not buy laser pointers for the kids
- Before buying the device, make sure that it conforms to the rules and regulations as set by FDA.