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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

Australia: Teen injures both eyes by looking into laser pointer

A 14-year-old Australian permanently damaged his retinas by deliberately shining a laser pointer into his eyes “for a very brief period of time”, according to the optometrist who examined the teen.

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 laser damage 2015-11-5 Australia
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

Germany: Bus driver's eye injured by laser pointer aimed by child

An October 5 2015 report in the British Medical Journal Case Reports describes a public bus driver who suffered retinal injury due to a schoolboy aiming a red laser beam into a mirror on the bus, reflecting into the driver’s eyes.

Diagram of laser pointer on bus

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

In three separate cases, children in the area of Bologna have suffered eye damage caused by 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.

US: Man stabbed in Pittsburgh after asking persons to stop shining laser pointer at him

A man in Pittsburgh was stabbed with a knife, after he approached two people and asked them to stop shining a laser pointer at him. The victim was with friends on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh, around March 15 2015. After asking for the laser aiming to stop, the male suspect told the victim “You shouldn’t have walked up on us like that” and stabbed him in the upper arm with a blade about 5-6” long. The second suspect was a female. University of Pittsburgh campus police were asking for the public’s help in finding the suspects.

From CBS Pittsburgh

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.”
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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