A comprehensive resource for safe and responsible laser use
On March 27 2018, Officer Dan Sells of the Lafayette (Indiana) Police Department was in a hospital conference room for a debriefing, along with two other officers and a dispatcher. Sells and another officer disarmed their Taser stun guns and began shining the Taser’s laser pointer (used for aiming) at the dispatcher.
Sells became distracted for a few minutes. He then picked up the Taser, intending to continue the laser pointer horseplay. However he forgot he had armed the Taser. When he pulled the trigger to turn on the laser pointer, the Taser fired, sending the electric prongs into the dispatcher’s foot.
He received a five-day suspension for unbecoming conduct, unsatisfactory performance, misuse of department equipment and misusing a weapon.
On May 30 2018 Sells agreed to a 10-day suspension for apparently unrelated charges (in a separate incident) of unbecoming conduct, unsatisfactory performance, and violating evidence-gathering procedures.
From the Journal & Courier
In the first case, the macular area of a boy’s eyes were damaged so that he could not see an object at 10 cm. The damage was confirmed by retinal examination.
In the second case, a 15-year-old high school student also has burns on his macular area, from when a classmate aimed a laser pen at him. He could only see objects within 50 cm, and there were scars consistent with those left by clinical lasers.
Both cases were reported by Xie Airui, an eye specialist at the Ineye Hospital of Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Both cases occurred between September 2017 and May 2018.
According to a May 31 2018 news story, laser pens have become popular with some schoolchildren in Chengdu. Many stationery shops sell them for prices between USD $0.80 and $31.00. in 2014 the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine warned consumers about laser pointer hazards. “But no market supervisors have taken up the matter in a serious way, according to Xu Bin, a lawyer in Chengdu.”
From China Daily via Ecns.cn
After the “read more” link are more stories, plus speculation that the cause might be ultraviolet light, or chemical irritation from fog or smoke.
NYE laser show leaves 200 students in Andhra with eye irritation
The children's eyes began watering and had turned red when they got up the next morning.
Around 40 students of a private school in Andhra Pradesh's Parvathipuram village in Vizianagaram district had to be given medical treatment, after their eyes began to swell on Monday morning [January 1 2018].
The 40 students, along with 200 others, began complaining of irritation and pain in their eyes, after they were reportedly exposed to lights and lasers during a show, as part of the school's New Year's Eve celebrations.
The children's eyes began watering, and had turned red when they got up the next morning.
As the children began complaining, worried parents staged a protest and demanded answers from the school.
Following this, doctors rushed to the school and administered first-aid, before assuring those who had gathered, that the kids would not lose eyesight.
“We prescribed eye drops and ointment for the affected children,” a doctor told the Times of India.
Meanwhile, Vizianagaram district Collector Vivek Yadav was informed of the incident, and directed the Revenue Divisional Officer (RDO) of Parvathipuram, P Sudarsan Dora, to visit the school along with Mandal Educational Officer P Krishna Murthy.
Circle Inspector G Rambabu also visited the school along with the officials, and spoke to the children, to collect more details regarding the case. Further details are awaited.
Click the “read more” link to see additional updated stories, plus speculation on the possible cause. Click to read more...
According to a news story, “the boy sustained damage to his eyes and required hospital treatment.” A police spokesperson called the injuries “serious.”
Police were asking for help in finding the perpetrators of the December 4 2017 incident
From Luton Today
News reports did not say how the laser pointer was linked to the beating. (For example, whether the girl was aiming it at the soldiers.)
From Wafa and the Ma’an News Agency
The document lists over 70 incidents. The two which involve prototype hardware that includes, or appears to include, laser light are:
- “After BT4 user study, user advised study lead, that she experienced discomfort in her eye and said she was able to see the laser flash at several points during the study. Study lead referred her to optometrist and secured prototype unit for analysis.”
- “Employee reported eye pain after working with new prototype, thought it may be associated with use. He noticed that the security seal on the magenta (outer) case had been broken and had thought the unit may have been tampered with.”
Gizmodo wrote that “a source inside Apple speculated that this [March 2] injury may have something to do with an augmented reality product Apple may be testing, something like glasses with an overhead display.”
Another tech blog, SlashGear, speculated on how Apple might be using lasers in or near eyes: “There are several possibilities as to how the lasers mentioned in one of the incident reports might be involved in that, depending on the technologies Apple is using. For instance, laser projection – where graphics are created directly on the eye using a system of targeted laser light – has been used by several companies wanting to make a daylight-visible UI. Another alternative, and possibly a more likely one, is laser eye-tracking. That relies on using lasers to monitor eye movement in real-time, so that the wearer’s direction of gaze can be calculated. Such a system would be able to figure out what the user was looking at and potentially control a user-interface that way.”
From Gizmodo and SlashGear
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.
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
From a November 5 news account, it appears the injury occurred on Friday October 30 2015. The boy saw a general practitioner the following Monday, who then referred the teen to Ben Armitage, a Hobart (Tasmania) optometrist.
Armitage said the boy did not feel pain during the exposure, but he immediately lost visual acuity. “His vision is down to about 25 percent of what we call 20/20 vision and unfortunately at this stage it’s unlikely that vision is ever going to recover.”
Retina of one of the teen’s two eyes that were damaged by a self-inflicted laser pointer exposure. The injury occurred near the macula. At the center of the macula is the fovea, responsible for sharp central vision.
The damaged area is still swollen; Armitage hopes that some vision may be restored when the swelling recedes.
An Optometry Tasmania spokesperson warned parents not to allow children unsupervised access to laser pointers “and, in fact, better off trying to warn them off because we’ve just seen in this particular case where the future lifestyle of this young person has been seriously affected.”
From ABC (Australia) News
The 44-year-old driver stared into the laser several times, as he tried to identify the person holding the laser. He suffered blurred vision in his right eye immediately after the exposure, but waited 6 months before having his first complete eye exam.
The exam showed “spot-like retinal pigment epithelium disturbances temporal to the fovea of the right eye, with no abnormalities in his left eye.” The authors stated that “The subjective complaints and objective ophthalmological findings of this patient were consistent and strongly suggested that the repetitive exposure of the eye to the reflected laser spot 6 months previously had caused subtle but detectable injury to the macula.”
The authors concluded with two “Learning points”:
- “We suggest that no laser pointers of any class are made available to children, since they are unlikely to understand the risks of permanent retinal damage.”
- “For the safety of users and the general public, even low-energy handheld laser pointers should not be sold to children.”
The authors did not identify the location of the incident, but it may be Germany since three of the four authors’ institutions were in Germany. Additional analysis and commentary is below (click the “Read More…” link).
From Thanos S, Böhm MRR, Meyer zu Hörste M, et al. “Retinal damage induced by mirror-reflected light from a laser pointer” BMJ Case Reports. Retrieved online: 2015 Nov 05, doi:10.1136/bcr-2015- 210311.
Click to read more...
Italy: Prosecutor investigating manslaughter charges in three cases of eye damage to children from laser pointers
The cases were reported in mid-September 2015 by the St. Ursula Ophthalmology Hospital in Bologna. One of the children was 10; the other two were 13.
The injuries were caused by laser pointers bought by their parents (in two cases) or grandmother (in the third case) in markets in Florence or Bologna. One child had a slight loss of vision, another had significant loss in both eyes, and a third has almost lost his sight and is legally blind.
A public prosecutor, Valter Giovannini, has opened an investigation for aggravated manslaughter against unknown assailants. This seems to indicate that in all three cases, the laser pointer bought by or for the children was used against them by another person.
As a result of the report, Carabinieri NAS (Nuclei Antisofisticazioni e Sanità or “Anti Fraud Squad”), a special police force operating under the Italian ministry of health, seized fifteen illegally-sold laser pointers.
The hospital warned the public not to purchase green laser pointers sold “on the street, in the stalls and fairs.” A spokesperson said higher-powered pointers such as those aimed at players in stadiums were to be avoided. Professional laser pointers used in lectures should not be a problem.
From Corriere di Bologna. Thanks to Alberto Kellner Ongaro for bringing this to our attention.
From CBS Pittsburgh
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...
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.
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
A previous News item described the attack in more detail.
From the Ottawa Citizen