Laser pointers regularly harm children's eyes: doctors

Local doctors are warning about the improper use of laser pointers by children and the possible harm that can be done to the eyes.

Local doctors are warning about the improper use of laser pointers by children and the possible harm that can be done to the eyes.

An 8-year-old boy was sent to Shanghai Xinshijie Eye Hospital after his eyes were burned by a laser pointer while playing. Doctors said the retina of his left eye suffered irreversible damage.

“Laser can penetrate the eye and concentrate on the retina," Dr Lian Jingcai, president of Shanghai Xinshijie Eye Hospital said. "It happens so fast that the macula region is damaged before our body reacts by blinking."

Doctors said such cases are not rare at the hospital. A study conducted by the national quality authority found 29.8 percent of children have had access to laser products, laser pointers being the most common.

The government has issued a warning to alert parents not to buy laser pointers as toys for their children, but they are still widely available in local stationery stores. Most laser pointers don’t come with safety alerts to warn of the dangers present.

“High-powered laser pointers can not only burn the eyes and skin, but also clothing and other flammable items. For such pointers, diffuse reflection light also can hurt the eyes even if the laser doesn’t directly point into the eyes,” Lian added. “Adults must pay attention and keep laser pointers out of reach of children."

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