Ocular Injuries from Laser Pointers

Glenn Yiu, MD, PhD Duke Ophthalmology Duke University Medical CenterMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Glenn Yiu, MD, PhD
Duke Ophthalmology
Duke University Medical Center

MedicalResearch.com:  What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Yiu: This paper reported a child who suffered injury to both eyes from a powerful blue laser pointer purchased via the internet from overseas. Our report reviews the scientific basis for laser injuries in eyes and the factors that may affect outcomes, such as power, wavelength, duration, and distance of exposure. Newer green and blue lasers, especially high-powered ones, may be more prone to inducing eye injuries. We summarized the clinical features of ocular laser injuries, methods of prevention, and discussed how consumer availability of high powered lasers may require careful federal regulations.

MedicalResearch.com: Were any of the findings unexpected?

Dr. Yiu:  In this case, the laser caused retinal hemorrhages in both eyes resulting in severe loss of vision. This is uncommon since laser injuries over short distances are typically unilateral. The circumstances are unclear surrounding the young victim playing with an adult who directed the laser at him in jest. Fortunately, the hemorrhages resolved after several months and did not appear to result in permanent damage. This is not always the case, as some patients may suffer permanent scarring or recurrent bleeding from abnormal growth of blood vessels (known as choroidal neovascularization) as a result of the laser damage.

MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Yiu:  Unlike trained personnel in occupational settings, the average consumer may not be familiar with laser safety practices. Ocular laser injuries among consumers may be underreported, and prompt referral to an ophthalmologist is necessary for diagnosis, possible treatment, and documentation for medicolegal purposes. Laser goggles are important for prevention of laser injuries, and care should be taken to ensure that the laser goggles are specific for the wavelength of the laser being used.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Yiu:  Increased available of lasers in the consumer market requires careful regulation. High powered devices, particularly those with shorter-wavelengths, should be clearly labeled and safety instructions provided to ensure use of appropriate laser safety goggles or other barriers. Improved consumer awareness will be important for preventing future incidents from occurring.

Citation: Ocular Safety of Recreational Lasers

JAMA Ophthalmol. 2014 Jan 9. doi: 10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2013.5647. [Epub ahead of print]

Yiu G, Itty S, Toth CA.


Last Updated on March 28, 2014 by Marie Benz MD FAAD