Laser pointer causes a hole in the retina of a boy’s eye


A scan soon revealed a large hole in the part of his left retina called the macula, which is crucial for mapping out things like faces and words.

The boy's father bought the damaging green laser from a street merchant.

A nine-year-old boy in Greece permanently injured his left eye when he repeatedly gazed into a laser pointer's green beam, doctors say.

Macular holes are typically treated with surgery that is accompanied with an nearly 100 percent risk of cataract formation, Dr. Sofia Androudi, a physician involved with the case, wrote in an email.

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The child came in for a check-up with his doctor in Volos, Greece, more than a year after his injury, and complained of some issues seeing. Androudi, the ophthalmology professor, further said, "This means that even if the surgery would be successful, the boy would not be able to see". This is why people shouldn't look directly at laser beams.

An examination showed the vision in his left eye was 20/100, compared to 20/20 vision in his right eye.

According to NEJM, the patient's vision in the affected eye decreased to 20/100, and hasn't improved in the 18 months since the incident.

"When you have something as powerful as a laser, it's so powerful that it is converted to heat like a burn", Thomas C Lee, director of the Vision Center at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, who was not involved in this particular case, told CNN.

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Not pointing a laser pointer in your eye is one of those pieces of advice that pretty much everyone follows, even if they've never seen what happens if you don't follow it. The patient can actually get a blind spot right in the middle of the eye.

In Australia, laser pointers with a beam strength of greater than 1mW of light require written permission from the Federal government to be imported into the country.

A laser is usually so powerful that is can act like a burn. The US Food and Drug Administration warns against so-called "overpowered" green, blue and violet lasers that have been modified to give off more radiation than originally intended. "While there are legitimate uses for these laser pointers, they may be altered to become more powerful and unsafe if not used responsibly".

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