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Laser Pointer Injuries
 
Over the last several years the price of hand held laser pointers has dropped significantly. What was once an expensive tool for serious lecturers has now became an inexpensive toy for kids of all ages.. This explosion in the availability of laser pointers has led to concerns about laser pointer injuries to the eye.

Recent reports suggest that accidental laser pointer exposure to the eye is not harmful (Arch Ophth 1999). Usually these accidental exposures last less than 1/4 of a second. They are terminated by blinking or other aversive responses to bright light. 

Another reason that there is a low potential for injury is that most commercially available laser pointers have a low energy output of < 5mW (compared to therapeutic lasers with outputs of 50-1000mW). Lasers pointers also tend to be in wavelengths which are not maximally absorbed by ocular tissues.

Symptoms from laser pointer exposure include afterimage and dazzle. These symptoms are almost always temporary.

Although brief, accidental laser pointer exposure does not cause permanent damage, longer exposure to laser pointers does have potential for retinal damage. However, these longer exposures are almost always intentional and require prolonged (>10 seconds) fixation on the laser pointer.

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