Green and red lasers that carry low power and are used for presentation pointers can cause retinal burns if the eye constantly gazes at them.
In the news
was a boy from Greece who suffered permanent damage from a a blue-green laser toy that his father bought him. The laser burned a hole through the very center of his retina, known as the macula, causing a traumatic hole. Although macular holes can occur spontaneously and be amenable to surgical repair, this one was with concomitant damage to the delicate retinal tissue and nerve fibers.
Lasers that are commonly used for presentation pointers have also been used nefariously by some people to point at airplane cockpits during landing, a Federal offense. Both blue-green and red lasers are made; it is the blue-green lasers, with a shorter light wavelength and higher power, that present a greater risk.
L-A-S-E-R is actually an acronym for "light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation."
Some lasers are powerful enough to cut through steel, while others don't create heat at all and are used with minuscule energy for corneal and cataract surgery. But all lasers share the feature that they are highly focused, unlike a lightbulb.
Hospitals and other medical centers require doctors and nurses to pass training to use lasers, because there are dangers when improperly used. It is incumbent upon responsible adults to be aware that a toy laser carries many similar dangers. Caution is recommended, as is keeping these devices out of the hands of children.*
Paul Krawitz, M.D., President and C.E.O.
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