Gympie optometrist warns lasers are not toys
OPTOMETRISTS at Eyecare Plus in Gympie have warned parents not to think of laser pointers as toys after a Tasmanian teenager caused permanent damage to his eyes by looking in the laser beam.
The 14 year old boy shone the laser pointer into his eye for a very short time, but it was enough to cause permanent damage to the back of his eyes.
Gympie optometrist Charmaine Mills explained the damage was due to laser burns on the retinas of both eyes.
"What makes this worse it that the burns were to the macula and this is the area of the retina that we use for the thing we are look at. This is where detailed vision takes place, so the teenager has damaged his central vision. That is normally used for reading, watching TV, seeing road signs, etcetera," Ms Mills said.
The boy didn't experience any pain at the time but his loss of vision was almost immediate.
Laser exposures can have a wide range of effects including flash blindness, dazzling, dark spots, hazy vision, floaters, burns, or retinal bleeding.
"People usually think that sight can be corrected with glasses, bit this is a case where this is not true. The central vision loss was 75% and the vision will not recover. Central vision is responsible for the majority of our useable vision, so sadly this damage will have consequences for the rest of the boy's life," she said.
Parents should limit access and ensure the pointers are used with care, and not pointed at faces or eyes.