A comprehensive resource for safe and responsible laser use

US: Man charged with using laser pointer to lure feral cats into dog attack

A witness reported a man and his pit bull dog were “terrorizing” feral cats on Digital Drive. The man would use a laser pointer to lure the cats out from a dark corner so that his dog could attack the felines. The disturbance was reported 11:10 p.m. December 4 2016.

From the December 8 2016 “Police blotter” report in the Morgan Hill (Calif.) Times

US: Man charged with pointing laser at two Va. police officers

A man was charged for shining a laser on two Fairfax County (Va.) Police Department officers on December 6 2016.

Just after 2 a.m., two officers, dressed in full uniform, responded to the 12200 block of Water Elm Lane for a report of concern for a garage door that was left partially open. As they waited outside a home to speak to someone, one officer noticed a red laser pointed directly at them. Not knowing the source or purpose of the light, both officers took cover.

They saw the suspect standing on an apartment balcony nearby, in the 4400 block of Milroy Way. They went to the apartment and identified the suspect, who was cooperative. Officers determined the device was a small laser pointer.

Johnny A. Tela, 24, of Centreville, was issued a summons for pointing a laser at a law-enforcement officer (Va State code 18.2-57.01).

From a Fairfax County Police Department news story

Mexico: Laser aimed at NFL quarterback during game

A green laser was aimed multiple times at the helmet and face of Houston Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler, during a National Football League game played November 21 2016 in Mexico City. Here are two photos taken of the same play, from different vantage points:

Brock Osweiler laser 02

Brock Osweiler laser 01

The first incident happened near the end of the second quarter of play. When the game resumed after halftime, the laser was again aimed onto the field about two minutes into the third quarter, on running back Lamar Miller:

Lamar Miller laser 01

According to analyst John Harris of HoustonTexans.com, “The Texans security spent nearly the entire first half trying to find the culprit in the North end zone. There were state and city police in that end zone for most of the rest of the half. I don’t know if they ever found anyone….”

After the game, Osweiler was asked about the laser interference: “There were multiple times I saw a green laser coming from the stands. There were a couple of times it definitely hit me in the eye. And it was very noticeable…. Certainly, having a laser zoomed in on your eyeball definitely affects how you play.”

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Korea: "Anti-fan" said to attack singer with laser pointer during concert

Singer Jung Chaeyeon of girl group I.O.I had an apparent laser pointer aimed at her face and into her eye during a televised performance on October 26 2016. She continued to sing and appeared to be unfazed and unhurt by the light.

The incident occurred on MBC Music’s “Show Champion” television show. Video shows a brief, approximately 5-second period when a relatively dim light can be seen on Chaeyeon’s face:

Pic 2016-10-31 at 2.43.12 AM

Pic 2016-10-31 at 2.42.14 AM

An alleged screenshot on Koreaboo.com (below, top images) shows a brighter dot that is yellow with red glowing edges. However, the dot appears to be photoshopped since a video screenshot of the same moment captured by LaserPointerSafety.com shows a dimmer dot (below, bottom images):

Jung Chaeyeon laser Koreaboo screenshot
Jung Chaeyeon laser Koreaboo closeup
From Koreaboo.com; oval added on Koreaboo version. Closeup on bottom.

Jung Chaeyeon laser LPS screenshot
Jung Chaeyeon laser LPS closeup
Video capture at 00:28. Closeup on bottom.


The original video is here (light spot appears from approximately 00:25 to 00:30):



The Google-translated headline on a story from Korean website Dispatch.co.kr is “ ‘Fans rage, threatening safety’ … jeongchaeyeon laser beam terrorism”

According to Koreaboo.com, the alleged laser pointer came from an “anti-fan.” This is a concept where people who dislike celebrities will take negative actions against the celebrity or their fans. For example, one girl group member, Gan Mi-Yeon, received “scores of ‘fan mail’ filled with razors … along with pictures of her with her eyes taken out or letters written in blood.” In 2000, a boy band member was given a soda injected with bleach; his mother happened to drink it and was hospitalized.

Article in English from Koreaboo.com. Original article from Dispatch.co.kr, English translation from Google. Anti-fan information from the Ask A Korean blog.

US: Multi-car crash due to laser being aimed at driver

A woman driving on Interstate 5 in Oregon was dazzled by a green laser beam aimed by the driver of another car. This led to a three-car crash causing body damage to the vehicles. There were no reported injuries due to the crash or the laser light.

The accident occurred at about 5:30 am on October 25 2016. Miranda Senters, 18, was driving her new car, bought one week prior, when the driver in front of her aimed a green laser beam over his shoulder towards her. Senters told KGW News “I just kept going back and forth a little bit, trying to keep out of the light.” The laser driver then went behind Senters’ car and aimed into the rear-view mirror: “…he’s shining it from the back of me into my eyes and I couldn’t see.”

Senters tried to get away but the other driver weaved in and out of lanes to keep up with her. While trying to avoid the light, Senters swerved to the shoulder and spun out. The other car crashed into her. A third driver hit a barrier when trying to avoid the stopped vehicles.

The laser car, an older Honda Civic, left the scene. In an Instagram post, state police asked the public to help them find the Civic.

laser car crash Oregon i-5 I5 Senter
State police photo showing Senters’ car with driver side damage, at the scene on Interstate 5.


Senters later told KPTV “He had a little laser and was trying to get it through my front window. I went blind because a green laser light — like my eyes still hurt from that, I can still see it…. I don’t understand how it’s a joke. It could have killed me.”

From KGW and KPTV. Thank you to George Palikaras for bringing this to our attention.

Note from LaserPointerSafety.com: This is the first well-documented case we’re aware of where a laser pointer aimed at a driver directly caused a crash. There was a fatal crash in 1998 which was partially blamed on a laser pointer, and an indirect reference to a three-car accident in 1999. There have also been a number of near-accidents and other car-related laser incidents which are listed here.

Scotland: Woman attacked by teens with laser pen, blinded in one eye

A 33-year-old woman was blinded in one eye by a laser pen during an attack by two boys who were about 14 or 15 years old.

She was walking on a road, under a railway bridge, in Clydebank when the incident took place at about 10 pm on September 10 2016. The exact nature of the attack — whether money was demanded or if the lasing was random — was not described in news accounts.

The woman was taken to a hospital about 4 miles away. She later reported the assault to the police. News about the attack was not released until a week later.

News reports quoted a Police Scotland spokesperson as saying, “This was a completely unprovoked and senseless attack on this woman, which has left her blind in one eye. The youths responsible must be caught as soon as possible. To point a laser pen at someone is highly irresponsible. Extensive inquiries are ongoing to trace the two boys, with officers carrying out inquiries in the local area and studying CCTV footage to identify them.”

The attack comes just a few days after a man was arrested for aiming a laser pen at a Police Scotland helicopter in Clydebank on September 5 2016.

From BBC News and Glasgow Evening Times

US: College football referee asks fans to stop shooting laser beams onto field

During a September 16 2016 college football game in Houston between rivals Rice and Baylor, someone in the stands shone a green laser beam onto the field.

Pic 2016-09-17 at 10.30.14 AM

The referee stopped the game and, using the public address system, faced the crowd and said “Ladies and gentlemen, please refrain from shooting lasers onto the field. Thank you.”

A video of the laser beam, and the referee’s announcement, can be seen here.

From USA Today and SB Nation

US: Teen points beam from laser "gun" into officer's eyes

A teenager pointed a laser “gun” at a Northport, NY police officer’s face. The incident happened at 9:45 pm on September 10 2016. The 17-year-old was arrested about 21 hours later, and was charged with second-degree menacing and second-degree harassment.

Northport Police Chief Bill Ricca told LaserPointerSafety.com that the laser beam went into the officer’s face and eyes. The officer was temporarily blinded. He did not feel discomfort, but did go to an eye doctor for an exam which showed no ill effects.

Ricca said that the situation could have been much worse: “If the laser was aimed at the cop’s chest so the cop could see what was going on, I’m sure he might have shot at the kid. We would have had a real bad incident.”

Pic 2016-09-15 at 3.10.06 PM
The laser “gun” used in the incident.

Pic 2016-09-15 at 3.22.30 PM
An Internet search of similar “laser pointer guns” turns up a similar
lighter costing about $7.00.


From Northport Patch and a September 16 2016 phone interview with Chief Bill Ricca

US: Family robbed by men who threatened them with a laser pointer

At about 1 am on September 13 2016, a family was robbed in a Tulsa, Oklahoma, convenience store parking lot by three men. One of them aimed a laser pointer at the father and demanded cash and purses. The family turned over the items and the men left.

A news story states “It’s not clear if the men had any weapons.”

From NewsOn6.com

US: Disorderly man aims laser pointer at police officer

A disorderly man was arrested in New Castle, Indiana, for aiming a red laser pointer at a police officer.

At about 4:35 am on September 11 2016, city police were called to a tavern where 57-year-old David Roginski was trying to enter — although the tavern was closed. He shouted at officers, flipped a lit cigarette at them, then pointed the laser at an officer while hiding behind a traffic light box.

He was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and with directing a laser pointer at a public safety officer. Each charge could result in a jail sentence of up to 180 days. (On September 13, he was separately charged with auto theft, stemming from allegedly stealing a vehicle on September 7. Roginski has had multiple past run-ins with the law, as well.)

From the Star Press and the Courier-Times

US: Study examines 4 laser-caused eye injuries in children, at one medical practice

A study in the October 2016 journal Pediatrics described four cases where children had laser-related eye injuries, all being presented at a single clinical practice within a two-year period. The authors call this “[t]o our knowledge, the largest reported case series of laser pointer-induced retinal damage in the pediatric population in a developed country to date.”

In a separate interview, one of the authors, ophthalmologist Dr. David Almeida, said these cases are “happening more frequently…. It was previously thought this was a one-in-a-million event. It's still probably a rare-to-uncommon reaction, but it's not a never reaction.”

All four children had foveal laser burns. Three of the children had potentially permanent vision loss. These are the cases:

  • A 12-year-old boy looked into a green laser pointer for about a minute. He had decreased central vision in both eyes, with 20/20 vision in one eye and 20/30 in another. His vision and macular condition was found to be unchanged after 7 months.
  • A 16-year-old teenager similarly had central vision loss in both eyes, after playing with a green laser pointer for about 30 seconds. He was first examined three days after the exposure, scars and atrophy were found on the retina. Two weeks later his vision has worsened. Visual acuity was 20/40 in both eyes with no improvement.
  • A 9-year-old boy looked at the reflection of a green laser pointer in a mirror (essentially the same as a direct beam) for an unknown length of time. His vision was 20/50. He was treated with 1% prednisolone three times a day for two weeks. His vision improved to 20/30, but he still had “persistent abnormalities of the photoreceptors.”
  • A 12-year-old boy looked into a red laser pointer for about 15 seconds. He had central vision loss, and 20/70 vision. He was given an injection of bevacizumab, which gradually improved his vision and symptoms. After 1 year, he had 20/20 vision.

The authors noted that laser pointers are more available, that users may not be aware of the dangers, and that some users may use pointers improperly.

Visible lasers less than 5 milliwatts (the U.S. legal standard for a laser to be marketed as a “pointer”) are considered to be generally safe due to the bright light reflex, which causes a person to blink and turn away from a bright light. So one question is why these children were injured by laser pointers.

One reason, according to the authors, is that “children increase their chance to retinal injury by staring at the laser beam without blinking or averting the eye for a prolonged duration.”

Another possible cause is that “the labeling of the power output of a laser point may be different from the device’s actual specifications.” They referred to a study of 122 laser pointers, where 90% of green pointers and 44% of red pointers were above the 5 milliwatt U.S. legal limit.

The study said that treatment options were “limited and also controversial.” Use of corticosteroids has shown “mixed results.” It may be enough to observe a patient over time, since many injuries will stabilize.

The authors recommended that laser pointer hazards “should be communicated to health professionals, school teachers, and guardians in an attempt to raise the public awareness of this emerging public health issue. Unsupervised use of these laser pointer devices among children should be discouraged, and there is a need for legislation to limit these devices in the pediatric population.”

From Retinal Injury Secondary to Laser Pointers in Pediatric Patients, Kunyong Xu, Eric K. Chin, Polly A. Quiram, John B. Davies, D. Wilkin Parke III and David R.P. Almeida, in Pediatrics; originally published online September 1, 2016; DOI: 10.1542/peds.2016-1188. A general interest article summarizing the study, with additional comments from Almeida and another ophthalmologist, is at HealthDay.com. The abstract of the Pediatrics article is below; click the “Read More…” link.


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US: Laser pointer sale gone bad escalates to airsoft gun, then real gun

On August 19 2016, a group of men having alcoholic drinks in a Mill Creek (Washington) park discussed the sale of a laser pointer to one of the group. An argument broke out over the exchange of money.

The seller pulled out an airsoft gun, but one of the other men pulled out a .40 caliber pistol. The seller ran away, but was shot by the man with the pistol. The bullet impacted on a metal flashlight in the seller’s backpack, possibly saving his life.

Flashlight laser bullet
The flashlight that took the bullet impact


The shooter was arrested on charges of attempted murder.

From Q13Fox.com

Sweden: Two teens playing Pokemon Go assaulted by laser-wielding couple in pig masks

Two teenagers playing the game “Pokemon Go” on August 12 2016 at around 10 p.m. in Insjön, a small Swedish town of 2,150 inhabitants, came across a couple wearing rubber pig masks. The couple yelled at the teens and waved a green laser at them. One of the teens was lased in the face but the light did not go into an eye. The teens ran off.

The pig-headed couple then went to a local landmark, a large water wheel on Highway 70, where they had sex. This caused a traffic jam.

Police were looking for the pair, since the green laser beam could cause serious eye damage. They may also face sexual harassment charges for the public sex.

From the Daily Mail and The Local. Article in Swedish from Dalarnas Tidnigar; English translation here.

Ukraine: Russia claimed to use laser to burn border guards' retinas

A Ukrainian official said that Russian forces “tested their laser weapons on our soldiers.” Three border guards had retinal burns that damaged their central vision. The guards had been using binoculars and monocles, which could help focus laser light into a more concentrated spot on the retina.

This was the first report of Russian use of a laser to blind, which is prohibited by the United Nations “Protocol on Blinding Laser Weapons”. The protocol bans the use of “laser weapons specifically designed, as their sole combat function or as one of their combat functions, to cause permanent blindness to unenhanced vision, that is to the naked eye or to the eye with corrective eyesight devices.”

From Ukraine Today; original story from Interfax-Ukraine

Australia: NSW man avoids conviction for shining laser pointer in public place

A man who owned a laser pointer for two days, was arrested after aiming it on an administration building in the Wollongong (New South Wales) train station.

On May 21 2016 Anthony Vella, 20, was trying out a laser pointer purchased as a gift for him by his brother, to see how far the light was visible. Two transport command police officers saw the laser being used, and charged Vella with using a laser pointer in a public place. They also confiscated the pointer. In testing, they noted that the laser dot was “clearly visible” on a wall 500 meters away.

On July 26 2016 Vella pleaded guilty. His lawyer said Vella was not aware that use of a laser pointer in a public place was illegal.

The judge ruled that Vella broke the law but did not record a criminal conviction due to Vella’s prior good character and lack of malicious intent.

From the Illawarra Mercury

UK: Woman sentenced for illegal laser imports that injured boy's eyesight

A 47-year-old Surrey woman was sentenced in mid-July 2016 to 240 hours of community service for illegally importing 300 over-powered lasers. One of the lasers was sold for £6 (USD $9) at a school Christmas fair and subsequently caused an eye injury to a seven-year-old boy.

Lynsey McClure had imported the lasers from a Chinese supplier who said they complied with U.K. regulations limiting laser pens to 1 milliwatt of power. Her brother, who was not charged, sold them in a stall during a school fair in December 2015. The headmaster asked her brother to stop selling the laser, but he continued.

Lynsey McClure laser
Lynsey McClure


Jonathan Marshall, 7, purchased one of the lasers. It was later found to have an output of 127 milliwatts.

His mother said Jonathan was playing with it at home when the beam went into his eye for “a fraction of a second.” He has a retinal burn which interferes with his vision.

McClure pleaded guilty to nine product safety and consumer protection violations, including selling an unsafe product and failing to disclose the power of the laser.

The case appears to be the first where a person has been prosecuted for an illegal laser sale that led to an injury.

From the Sunday Times (subscription required to read the entire article) and the JC.com

US: Laser aimed at officers during St. Paul protests

St. Paul, Minnesota police tweeted on July 9 2016 “Person with laser sight pointing it at officers.” This occurred during widespread protests in over a dozen U.S. cities, after two black men were killed by officers on July 5 and 6. (The most violent reaction occurred in Dallas on July 7 when a black Army reservist killed five officers, injured eight more, and injured two spectators.)

On July 9 in Philadelphia, CBSPhilly reported that a person was arrested for aiming a laser at a police helicopter after the protest. WHYY Newsworks said that a man was “briefly detained by officers after he used a powerful flashlight to point at the helicopter overhead. Because no illegal laser-pointers were used, he was sent away with a citation for disorderly conduct….” It is not known if these two reports referred to the same incident.

A Google search as of July 11 did not turn up any additional instances where lasers were used in or around protests.

US: UPDATED - Wash. state man charged with lasing ferry; ordered to pay $100,000 fine

27-year-old Mark Raden was alleged to have injured two ferry captains with a nominal 1-watt blue handheld laser. The captains were temporarily blinded and had eye irritation after the October 22 2015 incident. On April 1 2016, Raden was charged with two counts of third-degree assault. If convicted, he could face up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

The almost six-month delay was due in part because the crime took place in waters between jurisdictions, making it more complex to determine who would prosecute.

Raden has previously been in trouble for misusing a laser. In July 2015, Raden and his friend Dillon Reisman, 27, were aiming a laser into house windows in Langley, Washington, in order to “cause alarm to anyone trying to sleep.” When confronted by police, Raden repeatedly aimed the laser beam into an officer’s face. Felony charges were not filed until November 18 2015.

In yet another incident, police said Raden was accused of using a laser and acid as weapons.

From MyNorthwest.com

UPDATED - May 2 2016: The U.S. Coast Guard issued a civil penalty of $100,000 against Raden on April 26 2016. According to a Coast Guard press release, “Coast Guard officials are seeking civil penalties for violation of a safety and security zone as well as interference with the safe operation of the Tokitae while it transited between Mukilteo and Clinton. The final civil penalty amount will be determined by a Coast Guard Hearing Officer in Arlington, Va.” The text of the press release is below (click on the “Read More…” link).

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US: Fan banned from basketball arenas for aiming laser at player

A Houston Rockets player had a laser pointer aimed at him, during a January 4 2016 National Basketball Association game against the Utah Jazz. The player, James Harden, pointed to the stands.

Laser NBA Rockets Jazz Harden 00


The perpetrator was found and was ejected from the arena:

Laser NBA Rockets Jazz Harden


He was later banned from NBA arenas for a year.

After the game, Harden said “Some guy was lasering me. I saw it the first time and I thought it was a picture being taken. I went to the foul line again and it happened again. The referee [Tom Washington] caught it before I did. That’s the first time that happened to me.”

Two days later, Harden told ESPN “That's just disrespectful, not just to a basketball player, anybody. Whoever that guy was he wouldn't want to be lasered in the face, so that was disrespectful. It's not my call [on the fan being banned], I'm just trying not to get blind."

From the Houston Chronicle, SB Nation and USA Today