A comprehensive resource for safe and responsible laser use

US: Railroad engineer wins $5.6M verdict; laser pointer peripherally involved

An Amtrak engineer was awarded $5.6 million on December 5 2014 by a jury who found the railroad company negligent for a situation that led to the man’s beating by a street gang. An unspecified part of the liability was assigned to a laser pointer incident.

On April 16 2007, Jacob Keating stopped his train to get a trespasser off the tracks. A group of gang members attacked Keating and the train’s conductor with rocks. The jury found Amtrak negligent, as they did not provide a safe work environment. The area had been known to the company as “a party place” for years; Amtrak did not repair a fence or put up lighting to reduce trespassing.

According to the Sacramento Bee, “Along with the beating, the panel also held Amtrak liable for an incident in 2010, after Keating had returned to work, when someone in West Sacramento flashed a laser pointer into his engine compartment. Keating testified that he thought he was about to be shot and that the laser flash ignited a new round of post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Jurors assigned 6% of the blame to Keating, and 94% to Amtrak.

From the Sacramento Bee

Austria: Pre-teen has "massive" damage from misusing laser pointer

From Agence-France Presse:

A 12-year-old Austrian boy has suffered "massive and lasting" damage to his eyes after playing with a laser pointer, with his vision reduced by 60 percent, doctors said.

"We think that he was playing with a mirror and that the rays were reflected," said Yosuf El-Shabrawi, chief doctor at the Klagenfurt am Wörthersee clinic in Carinthia, southern Austria.

"His injuries cannot be treated. We can only hope that the worst of the injuries heal themselves and that his condition improves," El-Shabrawi said in a statement on Tuesday.

The boy's father bought the laser pointer on the Internet where it was advertised as a toy for playing with cats.

After a week the boy, named as Lukas, complained of a constant black mark in his field of vision.

The laser pointer in question was labelled as "Class 2" with an output under the European Union legal limit, but it lacked a so-called EN standardisation certificate, El-Shabrawi said.

AFP story on The Local, the Rakyat Post, iAfrica.com, and other news sources

US: Voters briefly turned away from polls, due to laser pointer "weapon"

Voters in Donna, Texas were briefly turned away from a polling site at a school, after a student reported finding a “weapon”, on November 4 2014.

For about 25 minutes, the polls were closed while the “weapon” was located and was determined to be a laser pointer.

The incident occurred at the W.A. Todd Ninth Grade Campus.

From ValleyCentral.com

US: Two more laser pointer incidents at U.S. football games

In the week after widespread publicity when a laser was aimed at NFL Buffalo Bills players on Sunday October 5 2014, two other U.S. football-related incidents made the news. It is not known if these incidents were copycats, or were unrelated but were judged more newsworthy in the aftermath of the NFL case.

Hawaii college game interrupted by laser pointer


On Saturday October 11 2014, a football game between the University of Hawaii and the University of Wyoming was interrupted in the fourth quarter. A green laser light had been spotted on the field near Wyoming’s quarterback.

The referee stopped the game announced over the public address speakers, “There's a member of the stadium that has a laser pointer that continues to shine in the eyes of the offensive players. We're currently seeking game management and security to resolve that situation." The person was not found.

University of Hawaii officials said they believe the laser was more powerful than classroom pointers, which legally are limited to 5 milliwatts.

Under Hawaii Revised Statues, Chapter 136, no one under the age of 18 is allowed to possess a laser pointer. Shining a laser at a person can lead to up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine.

University of Hawaii athletics director Ben Jay was asked by KHON if he knew of any previous laser pointer incident. Jay told the TV station, “To my knowledge ... it really hasn’t happened at a college football game in recent memory that I can recall. But I think the spate of some of the recent NFL games that have been affected by lasers probably prompted this person to do such a really idiotic act.”

There may have been another laser pointer at the game, as well. A person in the press box told KHON he saw a red light “dancing for about two seconds or so .... which means there were probably at least two laser pointers used at game time.”

A spokesperson for the Mountain West athletic conference said he was not aware of any other laser incidents at Mountain West venues. The 12-college conference oversees intercollegiate sports including baseball, basketball, football, and soccer. He told KITV, “We have already communicated with all appropriate parties within the Conference to take whatever measures necessary to address and eliminate the use of laser pointers.”

Aloha Stadium officials said they would step up bag checks but that finding laser pointers on entering fans would be difficult.

From KHON2.com (story 1 and follow-up story 2) and KITV.com

Michigan high school game delayed due to laser pointer


On Friday October 10 2014, a football game between Walled Lake Western high school and Walled Lake Central high school was delayed for more than 10 minutes in the second quarter. A laser pointer was used to distract Walled Lake Western players during the game. According to MLive.com, “Play was stopped for an extended period of time as officials, police officers and other members of the school's security staff gathered to discuss the matter and attempt to put a stop to it. The culprit was not located, though no further issues arose involving a laser pointer.”

Walled Lake, Michigan is about 26 miles northwest of Detroit’s Ford Field, where the October 5 2014 laser pointer incident occurred during an NFL game between the Detroit Lions and the Buffalo Bills. Walled Lake is also 6 miles southwest of West Bloomfield Township, where Mark (or Marko) Beslach lives; he is the Detroit fan identified by ESPN and ABC News as the person who used the laser during the NFL game and was subsequently banned indefinitely from Ford Field.

Map of Detroit area
Map showing Walled Lake, West Bloomfield Township, and Detroit in relation to each other


From MLive.com

US: Father of teen banned for NFL lasering asks police protection from opposing team's fans

The father of the teenager who aimed a laser at Buffalo Bills players during an October 5 2014 NFL football game has asked for police protection from harassing Bills fans, reports Michigan news source MLive.com.

According to reporter Eric Lacy, the father asked for help from police in West Bloomfield, a township in the Detroit metropolitan area, on October 10, one day after the Detroit Lions confirmed they had located the youth.

The name of the 17-year-old laser perpetrator was reported by ESPN, ABC News and other sources to be Mark (or Marko) Beslach of West Bloomfield. Before the October 5 NFL match in Detroit, a tweet from “@MarkoBeslach” said he was going to put a green light on Buffalo Bills players. After the game, a follow-up tweet said he “got Kyle Orton”, the Bills’ quarterback. The Twitter account was deleted later that day, but a screenshot of the two tweets was widely circulated on the Internet. According to Detroit Lions officials, the laser perpetrator was caught in part because of social media postings.

The Lions banned the youth from Ford Field “indefinitely”, and he was charged with disorderly conduct (a misdemeanor requiring payment of a small fine). The Lions also revoked the season tickets of the person who provided tickets to the perpetrator and had a “close relationship” with him, according to an earlier ESPN report.

The nature of the Bills fans’ harassment was not known. Calls by MLive.com to the family phone were not answered. MLive.com filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the West Bloomfield police department to get more information about the request for police assistance.

From MLive.com. Thanks to Dan Goldsmith for bringing this to our attention. LaserPointerSafety.com has additional stories about the original October 5 2014 incident, and the October 9 announcement by the Detroit Lions that they had found and punished the laser offender.

US: UPDATED - NFL fan banned from Detroit games, faces charge for aiming laser at football players

The NFL football fan who shined a green laser pointer beam at two players on October 5 2014, has been “banned indefinitely from attending all future events at Ford Field,” according to an October 9 press release from the Detroit Lions football team.

In addition, the person was charged with disorderly conduct by the Detroit City Prosecutor’s Office. This is a misdemeanor and would require payment of a small fine ($50, according to WSJM.com).

Finally, the Ford Field season ticket holder whose tickets were used by the laser-wielding person has had his tickets revoked for the remainder of the 2014 football season (e.g., five regular season home games).

In the October 9 press release, Detroit Lions president Tom Lewand wrote “[T]his occurrence was unique in that it could have affected the integrity of the game and more importantly could have jeopardized player safety.”

The Lions’ statement did not name the individual. Detroit city attorney Melvin Hollowell identified the person as a 17-year-old from the Detroit-area township of West Bloomfield, Michigan.

ESPN reported that the person was “Mark Beslach”, ABC News reported he was “Marko Beslach, a recent high-school graduate.”

Marko Beslach ABC News laser pointer Lions Bills Orton
The person identified as Marko Beslach by ABC News on its program “World News Tonight”


In a statement to the press, Lewand was asked if the season-ticket holder was the youth’s father. Lewand declined to give specifics but did say there was a close relationship between the laser perpetrator and the ticket holder.

A person with the account “Marko Beslach” tweeted before and after the game on October 5, about having a laser pointer and having used it on Buffalo Bills quarterback Kyle Orton. The tweet was later deleted, but not before a screenshot was recorded.

Lewand said the tweets were part of how they found the perpetrator: “I certainly don’t think he did himself any favors by talking about it.”

The Lions said that stadium security and operations staffs worked with team security, NFL security, and Detroit Police to find and penalize the perpetrator.

The ban will be implemented, according to Lewand, using technologies such as paperless ticketing, camera monitoring systems and identification processes. If the ban was violated, the person would be prosecuted for trespassing.

Lewand also noted that ticket holders who sell their tickets are responsible for the behavior of the buyers. The sellers could lose their rights to tickets if the buyer causes problems.

Laser pointers are banned from all 32 NFL stadiums.

From the Detroit Lions press release, ESPN, ABC News, WSJM.com and FOX Sports. For details about the original incident, and the initial reports about the Marko Beslach tweets, see this LaserPointerSafety.com story.

UPDATED - October 10 2014: News source MLive.com reported that the father of the laser-wielding youth has asked for police protection due to harassment from Buffalo Bills fans. Details are in this LaserPointerSafety.com story.

UPDATED - June 29 2015: Marko Beslach in November 2014 pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct. He was fined $235, had to do 80 hours of community service, and was given a one-year suspended sentence. He will have his case reviewed November 23 2015. From the Detroit Free Press.

Switzerland: UEFA fines Serbian club for incidents against U.K. club, including laser pointers

The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) has penalized the Partizan team of Belgrade due to a number of fan-caused incidents during a September 18 2014 match with U.K.’s Tottenham Hotspur. These included: displaying an anti-Semitic banner, use of fireworks and a laser pointers, and a pitch invasion.

On October 6 2014, UEFA ordered Partizan to close one section of their stadium for their next home game on October 23. The club was also fined €40,000 (USD $50,340).

Partizan had previously issued a statement saying “We fully condemn perpetrators of this mindless act, not only of antisemitic nature, but one that represents hatred of Partizan and Serbia as well.”

From the Daily Mail and the Guardian

Australia: Lasers on rugby player in Argentina leads league to investigate

The SANZAR rugby organization said they will try to crack down on incidents of lasers being pointed at players.

The October 6 2014 statement came after Wallabies player Mike Harris had multiple red and green lasers aimed at him during a match in Argentina. He made seven of eight goals, missing one after he complained to the referee about laser harassment.

Wallabies laser Argentina
Screen capture shows a laser beam on Harris’ head during the match


Lasers were also aimed at Wallabies players during other games between the Australian and Argentine teams.

Harris seemed resigned to the situation, saying "I guess it is something a bit different and part and parcel of playing in Argentina. There's not much you can do so you've just got to move on.”

The Wallabies’ coach, Robbie Deans, also seemed to dismiss the laser louts: “Obviously, it [the use of lasers] was not ideal but it was not a major element and was resolved very quickly.”

SANZAR chief executive Greg Peters said the organization would investigate.

An unscientific poll of readers at the Green and Gold Rugby website, for Wallabies supporters asked about consequences of pointing lasers at players. The results after being up for about a day:

poll green and gold rugby laser


From the Courier-Mail and greenandgoldrugby.com. SANZAR stands for ‘South Africa, New Zealand and Australia Rugby”

US: UPDATED - Laser aimed at NFL team quarterback, holder

Someone in the stands of an American football game aimed a laser pointer at players on October 5 2014.

The game was between the Buffalo Bills (visitors) and the Detroit Lions (home team). The laser pointer was aimed at Bills holder Colton Schmidt just before an unsuccessful 50-yard field goal attempt in the third quarter. Kicker Dan Carpenter was upset after the kick, talking to a referee until officials told him to return to the sideline. WIVB TV reported that the referee could be seen mouthing the words “No, I didn’t see it” to Carpenter.

In a post-game press conference, Bills coach Doug Marrone said the issue was resolved before the end of the game. He characterized the laser incident as less of a distraction and more of a motivator for Carpenter, who won the game with a successful 58-yard field goal with four seconds left to play.
Click to read more...

US: UPDATED - Utah man with laser pointer taped to fake gun is shot by police

A 32-year-old Utah man who brandished a homemade fake gun with a fake laser pointer “sight”, was shot July 10 2014 by a police officer. The man, Timothy James Peterson, survived and was charged with second-degree felony assault against a police officer, and misdemeanor counts of unlawful possession of a dangerous weapon and failure to stop at the command of law enforcement.

On July 7, Peterson made a Facebook post where he threatened to kill police, and referenced being shot by police. Three days later, West Jordan police officer Ian Adams was patrolling a shopping center and saw Peterson, who ran. During the chase, Peterson turned and drew an object that looked like a handgun. Adams shot Peterson twice, once in the legs and once in the buttocks.

The object was found to be a piece of bent metal with a taped-on laser pointer.
Click to read more...

US: UPDATED: Laser said to cause serious eye injury at Burning Man 2014

A woman was blinded by a laser at the Burning Man art and technology festival, according to a September 5 2014 post by Richard W. DeVaul, head of Google’s Rapid Evaluation Team.

DeVaul’s colleague was working as a volunteer when she was struck in the left eye by a “high-power, hand-held green laser, most likely a 1W 532 nm toy from China”.

Burning Man took place August 25 through September 1, 2014, at Black Rock Desert in northern Nevada. As of the September 5 post, DeVaul said the woman “still has not regained vision in her left eye and it is possible that she never will.”
Click to read more...

Scotland: Lasers aimed at climbers, rescuers on UK's highest mountain

The leader of the Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team was on an after-dark rescue early in September 2014, when “quite a powerful laser” was aimed at them.

The team was on Ben Nevis, the highest peak in the U.K. They were wearing head torches, so their light would be easy to see from lower altitudes.

Team leader John Stevenson estimated that the beam came from Glen Nevis, a couple of miles away. He told the Press and Journal that the green beam “could easily have caused someone to lose their balance causing them to fall and possibly injure themselves. Luckily it did not affect our rescue, but it goes without saying that it is an extremely dangerous thing to do.”

Stevenson said such lasings had happened before to his team, and also to another climber walking in the Ben Nevis area in mid-September.

From the Press and Journal

Norway: Children's show defies authorities, uses lasers in performance

A children’s show at Norway’s most frequently-visited attraction, Kristiansand Zoo and Amusement Park, illegally used lasers which swept over the audience. During the performance, an actor fitted with a “laser glove” flew on wires over the audience. On each hand, four laser pointers emitted green beams:

Kristiansand Zoo laser during performance

The zoo had previously applied to the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority (NRPA) for approval to use the glove, and for exemption from labeling and classification requirements. The request was rejected.

However, the zoo went ahead with the production.

In a September 17 2014 story, Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang (VG) quoted NRPA staffer, Sindre Øvergaard, who attended a performance in July 2014. He said it swept over the audience three times: “I and my partner got it right in the eye. We noticed there was a very bright light, and it hurt a little.”

Since he had been involved in the zoo’s original application to NRPA, Øvergaard told VG “that they [the zoo] took it to use is simply indefensible.”

The case was reported to the police. The zoo says a subcontractor told them the glove (shown below) was approved.

Kristiansand Zoo laser glove

From Verdens Gang. Google translation into English is here. Wikipedia is the source of the information about Kristiansand Zoo’s popularity. Thanks to Jan Ringen for bringing this to our attention.

US: 8th grader suspended for waving gun-shaped laser pointer

A 13-year-old Indiana boy was suspended for a week from his school, for waving a laser pointer in the school’s parking lot on September 11 2014. According to police, the pointer “could look like a gun.” (It is unknown if the pointer actually was gun-shaped like in the photo on this page, or if it was a different shape, such as the cylinder of a barrel, that could be mistaken for a gun, or part of a gun.)

A police spokesman said that laser pointers “are very dangerous in and of themselves, but anytime you have anything that looks like a firearm it’s obviously a danger and would be considered a credible threat.”

The boy obtained the laser pointer from a classmate, who was given a three day suspension.

A news story noted that it is illegal in Indiana to point a laser at a police officer, and recounted a previous incident when a student was arrested for shining a laser in the face of a school liaison officer.

From NWI.com

China: South Korea regrets laser pointer aimed at Chinese Premier by SK athlete

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang had a laser pointer shined on his face during the August 28 2014 closing ceremony of the Youth Olympics in Nanjing. A South Korean athlete was blamed for the incident, which occurred as Li was waving to the crowd and was taking his seat in front of 60,000 spectators.


China premier laser pointer on face
“Internet photo” from Want China Times showing Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, with green laser light on his face.


The South Korean embassy in Beijing issued a statement saying “It’s extremely improper and regrettable to shine a laser pointer on state leader. This should not have happened.”

According to the statement, the embassy was investigating in order to “confirm facts.”

Click to read more...

UK: Laser light forces motorist to stop; police looking for perpetrator

Police are looking for the person who aimed a bright green laser at motorists in the Devon-area seaside resort town of Torquay, between about 9:00 and 9:05 pm on September 1 2014.

According to police, “We are investigating an incident of causing danger to road users under the Road Traffic Act. A motorist was going around the roundabout near the Pavilion and a green laser light was shone directly in his eyes, causing him to stop his vehicle. We are appealing to the public. Were you around at that time? Did you see the incident? Were you subject to someone shining a laser light on you?”

From the Herald Express

World: UPDATED - Laser pointer may have affected World Cup goal; Algerian team fined USD $56,170

A Russian goalie, playing in a June 26 2014 World Cup match, had a laser pointer aimed on his face just before Algeria scored a game-tying goal that eliminated Russia from the competition.

Russian team manager Fabio Capello blamed the defeat on biased officiating and on the laser incident: “Our goalkeeper was affected by a laser 10 seconds before the goal. He was blinded by a laser, there are photos, films of it.... You can see that in the footage. This not an excuse, it is a fact. There was a laser. I have never come up with excuses to get by in my entire life.”

Russia Algeria laser pointer World Cup 01

Russia Algeria laser pointer World Cup 02
Two views of the laser on Russian goalie Igor Akinfeev.


In the 60th minute, after play had stopped for a free kick, a laser beam was repeatedly flashed in goalie Igor Akinfeev’s face. He stood up, and yelled and motioned at the referees to get them to try to stop the laser, as shown in the GIF animation below.

Russia Algeria laser pointer World Cup anim

Then, as play resumed, Akinfeev was again hit near his eye. He appeared to misjudge the ball’s flight, leaving the goal exposed:

Russia Algeria laser pointer World Cup anim 02


According to The Verge, “It’s difficult to tell quite how much Akinfeev was affected by the beam — the Russian doesn't blink or wince as it rakes across his face.”

The game took place at the Arena de Baixada, in Curitiba, Brazil. The final 1-1 score was not unexpected. For example, a preview published prior to the game by SportsKeeda foretold the 1-1 outcome: “Given that Algeria only need a draw to go through, they might not go out and attack in the second half, if the game is in the balance. Russia on the other hand, need to, but their misfiring attack is unlikely to score too many past Algeria. So expect a draw with Algeria going through and Russia going home. Predicted Scoreline: Algeria 1 – 1 Russia.”

FIFA, the world football governing body, in its publication Stadium Safety and Security Regulations recommends a ban on “Any item that could distract the players and/or officials, including laser pointers...” It is not known if the Arena de Baixada had such a ban in place or was actively searching all entrants for laser pointers.

From Fansided.com, Yahoo Sports, the Daily Mail, The Verge, SportsKeeda, and Larry Brown Sports.

UPDATED June 30 2014: The Algerian Football Union was fined 50,000 swiss francs (about USD $56,170) by FIFA, which has the power to fine clubs for their fans’ behavior. From the Voice of Russia.

US: Florida man buys laser pointer; arrested hours later for aiming at motorists, officer

A Florida man was arrested for aiming a green laser pointer at motorists -- and eventually at a Daytona Beach Shores officer -- at about 12:30 am on June 16 2014. When told he had committed a felony, the man apologized to the officer, who accepted the apology. Nonetheless, Walter Nevarez, 22, of Lakeland, was charged with pointing a laser light at a driver or pilot.

Pic 2014-08-18 at 4.21.48 PM
Walter Nevarez


Nevarez had purchased the laser earlier in the evening. Riding as a passenger in his girlfriend’s car, he began aiming the laser at oncoming cars, including the officer’s car.

After later told a reporter for the Daytona Beach News-Journal that he did not know it was illegal to misuse a laser pointer. He said he had been pointing it at a treeline and did not intend it to shine it at anyone’s eyes.

A defense attorney quoted by the newspaper said “If you are going to criminalize the conduct or behavior, then the government needs to explain and make the public aware why their action poses a potential danger.”

From the Daytona Beach News-Journal

Canada: Concern over driver distraction from laser pointers

On the heels of publicity over laser pointer interference with aircrews, a former worker in Alberta law enforcement warned about hazards to drivers as well.

Justin Crocker said he dealt with complaints from drivers in Alberta who were distracted by people in other vehicles misusing laser pointers. “I don’t think the should be in the general public,” he said. “It’s pretty distracting and it can almost cause an accident.”

According to Crocker, some of the vehicle lasing complaints led to criminal charges being filed.

From The Telegram

US: Laser pointer on home; Tulsa woman investigates and is shot

A woman in Tulsa, Oklahoma was shot in her leg after investigating a laser pointer being aimed onto her house. She went to a hospital, was found to be in fair condition, and was released after a few hours.

On May 22 2014, at about 10:30 pm, 50-year-old Dawn Adams went out her back door to investigate the laser light on her home. She asked the person to stop because the laser dot was upsetting the family dogs. They heard gunshots and thought the person might have shot the dogs. Adams and her son Philip Klimcak, 23, went outside and saw a person dressed in dark clothes who started walking the length of the house, “spraying bullets the whole way.” (Neighbors reported hearing about six shots; a reporter later found almost a dozen holes in the house.)

Klimcak pushed his mother back to protect her. A bullet went through the home structure and into Adams’ leg.

Dawn Adams Philip Klimcak Tulsa laser pointer home
Philip Klimcak, in dark clothing, speaks with KTUL reporter Caitlin Alexander outside his mother’s home.


Police believe the weapon was a pistol. They are looking for a suspect, but do not have a good description. Klimcak said it may have been a gang initiation.

There was no immediate information regarding whether the laser was on the pistol or was a separate stand-alone device.

From KTUL.com, Tulsa World, and KJRH.com

US: High school report of handgun turns out to be a laser pointer

Police officers responded to a call at a Kansas City, Kansas school on May 8 2014. A person with a handgun and laser sight had been reported at Wyandotte High School. Surveillance video, however, showed that the “suspect” had a laser pointer and not a gun.

From the Kansas City Star

Australia: MP apologizes for shining laser pointer on colleague

A Member of Parliament apologized to his colleague after shining a red laser pointer on his forehead while they were sitting in a Western Australia Legislative Council meeting in Perth, on May 8 2014.

The president of the Council stopped the proceedings when he noticed the red dot on Liberal MP Bernie Finn, and said “It is extraordinary and a matter of concern to have that sort of device aimed at a member and it wasn’t just once, it was on his forehead a couple of times. You’re actually very lucky in this circumstance that I don’t send you out of the house because I regard it as that serious.”

Labor MP Adem Somyurek apologized to Finn, saying he had collected the pen from an exhibition inside Parliament and had been playing with it in the Council. “I shouldn’t have done that, I consider Mr Finn a friend,” said Somyurek.

From Perth Now

Romania: Report of eye injury from Class 4 laser

LaserPointerSafety.com has received a report of an eye injury caused by a green (532nm) Class 4 laser of approximately 1 watt output.

The injured person is from Romania. He was hit in the left eye for 1 second or less from a distance of about 2 feet (~60 cm). He saw a dot in the center of his left eye and could not read properly with that eye. He went to an eye doctor who said there was a small retinal burn. After four days he said the vision improved a bit. He was scheduled for a follow-up exam one month after the injury date.

He asked LaserPointerSafety.com about any possible outcome and treatment. Experts we consulted said his symptoms and vision will probably improve. They suggested a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as ibuprofen or indomethcin. More aggressive treatment such as steroids (orally or injected into the eye) have been done with “often good” results. The side effects of steroids should be considered. They also indicated that the follow-up examination is important.

The laser was marked “<3000mW”, “Wavelength 532nm +/-10” and “Class IIIb Laser Product”. The label is incorrect, since Class IIIb is between 5 and 500 mW. A laser that is in the thousands of milliwatts would be Class 4.

The laser appears to be a “JD-303” from China; a link is here. The cost is US $5-7 per laser in a minimum order of 30 pieces. (They can supply up to 20,000 lasers per week.) It has a nominal power of 1 watt. The Alibaba web site does say “This is not a toy for your children, this is a high intensity laser pointer for adults only!”

Pic 2014-04-02 at 11.26.09 AM
Excerpt from the webpage for the laser believed to have caused the injury


Thanks to Leon McLin and Bruce Stuck for their assistance in this case.

Romania: Lionel Messi targeted with laser at soccer match

Football (US: soccer) superstar Lionel Messi was targeted by a green laser pointer during a match between Argentina and Romania taking place at the National Arena in Bucharest. A Daily Mail newspaper story mentioning the incident did not indicate whether the light entered Messi's eye or otherwise interfered with his play.

Messi laser soccer
Messi is lit up by a laser near his face


From the Daily Mail

US: Man arrested for aiming laser at drivers

A 21-year-old was arrested February 26 2014 for aiming a green laser into cars the night before. The incidents occurred in Newton, Massachusetts.

The unnamed man was charged with disorderly conduct and with assault and battery. Although there were also two reports of a green laser being aimed from the Newton area at aircraft, the man was not charged or associated directly with those incidents.

A hearing is scheduled for March 25 in Newton District Court.

From the Boston Globe

UK: Journal report of 5 children injured by laser pens

A report published online January 17 2014 in Eye, the journal of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, discusses five case reports of children injured by laser pointers and “toys” in the Sheffield, South Yorkshire area.

According to the abstract, “Clinically, three children had an acute vitelliform-like maculopathy which resolved to leave sub-foveal retinal pigment epithelium changes with reduced vision. One case was complicated by a choroidal neovascular membrane.”

  • Case 1 was of a nine-year-old boy who on December 22 2013 was tested with normal vision of 6/5 (U.S. 20/17 -- better than 20/20) but on December 26 complained of vision loss and was found to have 6/12 (20/40) in the left eye and 6/15 (20/50) in the right eye. The family said he was given a laser pointer as a “toy” and had been playing with it on Christmas Day. The child denied looking directly into the laser beam. The family had three laser pens: a 57 mW blue 405nm, a 42 mW green 532 nm, and a 72 mW red 650nm. All exceeded the British Standard of 5 mW for a Class 3R laser. The boy was prescribed steroids. Nine months after the initial complaint, the best corrected vision was 6/9.5 (20/32), and optical coherence tomography showed persistent outer retinal layer disruption at the fovea. [The boy was later identified in press coverage as William Jackson, from Wadsley. Details are at The Star.]

  • Case 2 was of an 11-year-old boy. He had decreased vision in both eyes of 6/7.5 (20/25). Eight weeks later he had sub-foveal retinal pigment epithelium changes. His vision was 6/12 (20/40) in the right eye and 6/15 (20/50) in the left eye. He said that a friend had aimed a laser into both of his eyes before the decreased vision occurred. The doctors were not able to examine what they characterized as the laser “toy”.

  • Case 3 was of a 15-year-old girl. She aimed a laser pen into both eyes for 30 seconds. The next day she had scotomas (vision loss or spots) in both eyes. Her right eye was 6/7.5 (20/25) and her left eye was 6/6 (20/20). Upon examination, a vitelliform-like maculopathy (abnormality in the macula or central vision area) was seen. She did not return for follow-up visits.

  • Case 4 was of an 8-year-old boy who had reduced vision of 6/12 (20/40) in his right eye, and normal vision of 6/6 (20/20) in his left eye. The right fovea was seen to have retinal pigment epithelial changes “consistent with laser burns.” The boy admitted he had played with a laser pointer a few months before, but said he did not point it directly at his eye.

  • Case 5 was of a 13-year-old boy who had noticed declining vision in his right eye. It was found to be 6/36 (20/120); his left eye was 6/6 (20/20). He admitted aiming a laser pointer into his right eye. A fibrosed choroidal neovascular membrane was found at the right fovea.

The authors noted that “The retinal damage reported following such injuries is variable. This is due to variety of laser powers and wavelengths as well as ocular factors such as fundal pigmentation, blink responses, pupil size, and proximity of the laser burn to the fovea. Assessment of alleged laser eye injury requires accurate history and examination. Treatment for such laser retinal injuries is uncertain. Oral corticosteroids are sometimes administered.”

The authors stated that some laser devices are marketed as “toys”. They said they are aware of other children in the U.K. with retinal injuries from imported laser pointers. They conclude: “We suggest that children should not be given laser pointers as toys.”

From “‘Toy’ laser macular burns in children”, in Eye (2014) 1-4, by N. Raoof, TKJ Chan, NK Rogers, W Abdullah, I Haq, SP Kelly and FM Quhill. A downloadable PDF version is here. A story from the Bolton News gives some additional comments from author SP Kelly.

US: Maine man aims fake gun with laser pointer at cars; is arrested

A 22-year-old Maine man was arrested January 11 2014 for aiming a replica gun, which emits a laser beam from the barrel, at passing motorists including a police officer.

Replica gun laser pointer
The replica gun, emitting a red laser beam, used to harass motorists.


The officer was on patrol in Kittery, a seaside town at the southern tip of Maine, when he saw a red laser beam in his cruiser. He then saw the beam on other vehicles as well.

The officer pulled up behind the car of Seth Christman, and arrested him. Christman was charged with criminal use of a laser pointer under Maine Title 17-A Sec. 1002-A. The Class D misdemeanor prohibits intentionally pointing a laser beam at a police officer or a “reasonable person” for the purpose of intimidating and attempting to harm.

Christman’s next hearing in York District Court is set for March 5 2014.

From SeacoastOnline

US: Child suffers eye injuries from adult misusing high-powered blue laser

A 9-year-old boy was injured by an adult who directed a 1.25 watt handheld blue laser into his eyes. The boy’s vision was initially 20/126 in the right eye and 20/100 in the left. After a week, the left eye returned to 20/20 vision; after two months the right eye improved to 20/25.

The case was reported in JAMA Ophthalmalogy under the title “Ocular Safety of Recreational Lasers.” Authors Glenn Yiu, Sujit Itty and Cynthia Toth are with the Department of Ophthalmology at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina.

They described the boy’s injuries as being caused by a Spyder III Pro Arctic “a class 4, high-powered 1250 mW laser that is manufactured from the 445 nm blue diode of a dismantled home theater projector and that is commercially available for online purchase from overseas.” This brand of laser is manufactured by the company Wicked Lasers; an 800 mW version was reviewed here.

In the case they described, “the adult directed the laser at the child’s eyes in jest, unaware of the harmful consequences.”

Pic 2014-01-10 at 12.04.02 AM
A copy of the safety label that appears on a Wicked Laser Spyder III Pro Arctic, containing the IEC and U.S. FDA-mandated wording for a Class 4 laser: “Avoid eye or skin exposure to direct or scattered radiation”


According to the authors, “imaging studies suggest that the laser damage was limited to superficial retinal vessels with no involvement of the underlying retinal pigment epithelium or choroid. To our knowledge, this is the first report of a continuous wave laser in the visible spectrum–damaging retinal vessels without affecting the retinal pigment epithelium, the site where damage from visible lasers typically occurs.”

They speculate that this may be caused by greater absorption of shorter wavelength lasers by hemoglobin, or a defocusing of the laser due to chromatic aberration and myopia in a child.

The authors conclude that “with the expanding use of lasers in nonoccupational or recreational settings, escalation of laser safety awareness and consumer laser regulations is paramount to prevent future ocular laser injuries.”

From JAMA Ophthalmology, published online January 09, 2014. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2013.5647. Thanks to Dr. David Hunter for bringing this to our attention.

US: UPDATED - NY state homeland security head uses laser gunsight as pointer in presentation

New York state’s director of homeland security, Jerome M. Hauer, reportedly used the laser sight on his handgun as a laser pointer, during an October 24 2013 presentation in Albany to a foreign delegation.

The Albany Times-Union reported on January 6 2014 that “...three Swedish emergency managers in the delegation were rattled when the gun's laser tracked across one of their heads before Hauer found the map of New York, at which he wanted to point.” Two persons “...moved quickly out of the line of the laser when he brought out the gun.”

There were no reported injuries from the incident.

Hauer has not denied the incident, although New York state press officials have not provided any additional explanation or details.

The Times-Union said Hauer had a stroke and “can be unsteady”. The laser was mounted on a loaded 9-millimeter Glock that he carries into state buildings, “... an apparent violation of state law barring state employees from bringing weapons into the workplace.”

Hauer is commissioner of the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services. He was director of the New York City Office of Emergency Management from 1996 to 2000, and was Acting Assistant Secretary for the Office of Public Health Emergency Preparedness within the Department of Health and Human Services from 2002 to 2004. He is approximately 61 years old as of January 2014.

From the Albany Times-Union and the Wikipedia article on Jerome Hauer

UPDATED January 7 2014, 1:45 pm: Hauer told the New York Post that the weapon was empty and was used because there were no laser pointers nearby: “In the end, I used the laser gun. Was it the smartest thing in the world do [sic]? Absolutely not.... No one in the room was rattled. The gun was never aimed at anyone. I would never point an empty firearm at anyone, let alone a loaded gun. I was pointing directly at the wall. The gun was never aimed at anyone.”

US: Calif. train crew reports laser pointer

A train crew reported that a laser pointer was aimed at the head of a train in Martinez, California, a town about 23 miles northeast of San Francisco. The incident happened about 1:15 am on December 27 2013. Police did not find the perpetrators.

From the Martinez (Ca.) News-Gazette