A comprehensive resource for safe and responsible laser use
In some cases, rocks or other objects were thrown at the firefighters or their equipment. In other cases, firefighters were verbally abused.
In two of the 68 cases, lasers were involved:
- On 30 September 2018, at 1837 hours whilst attending a fire in the open at Lonsdale Street, Bradford a group of youths threw fireworks onto the fire, verbally abused the crews and shone laser pens into their eyes.
- On 27th May 2018 at 2310 hours a laser pen was pointed at crews whilst they responded to an incident on The Crescent, Ravensthorpe. The occupier also became abusive and admitted causing the fire.
The complete list of 68 attacks was published in the Telegraph and Argus on February 16 2019.
The RNLI launching authority said “This was an appalling, reckless attack on our crew. They were navigating in near total darkness. The laser could have permanently damaged any of the crew’s vision had it shone directly into their eyes. Not only could it have done serious harm to our volunteers, it might well have jeopardized the rescue mission and put other lives at risk.”
None of the crew were harmed. The lifeboat continued its search; the missing person was eventually found by a police helicopter.
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
An optometrist who examined the boy said “It was clear after taking a close look at Carlo’s eyes that he had suffered some sort of damage. I could see there were slight burns to the surface of the eye [cornea] and the retina, the light sensitive tissue at the back of the eye, had been damaged.”
According to the optometrist, the boy is likely to need glasses when he is older due to the “irreversible” damage.
Carlo’s mother said “I had no idea laser pens could do so much damage to the eyes. If we had known, we’d never have let him buy one. The damage was slight when it was detected so Carlo hadn’t complained of any issues, but thank goodness it got picked up when it did.”
From the Leicester Mercury and the Express
The undated attack was discussed in an October 9 2017 press release from Dr. Valev’s institution, the University of Bath. The goal of the press release was to warn the public about laser pointers which may seem safe but are too powerful and/or emit infrared light in addition to visible light.
Dr. Valev and colleagues tested laser pointers at the university, and found the potentially unsafe conditions.
As part of the press release, Dr. Valev related a laser pointer attack that occurred in his home. He said his daughter was asleep at the time so no light entered her closed eyes. Dr. Valev said “… I got only momentarily dazed, but suddenly everything became red. I was thinking that perhaps I was experiencing a medical condition, but my wife saw someone shining a pointer at me from outside our home.”
Click the “read more” link to read the entire press release. Click to read more...
The incident happened September 28 2017 in Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire.
From the Gazette
She was treated at a hospital for “extreme burning pain.” She recovered with no lasting damage.
The laser attack happened in Carlisle, Cumbria around September 13 2017. It was not clear from news reports whether the ambulance driver was delayed in reaching the patient, or whether another ambulance was sent.
From BBC News
Passers-by saw the youths — described as a “gang” in a news report — and reported them to a passing member of the Bedworth Safer Neighborhood Team. An officer from the team said SNT is investigating the “potentially very dangerous” pranks. The officer also said “I would ask parents if these were their children to have a serious word with them.”
Anyone with information is asked to call 101 or the confidential Crimestoppers hotline, 0800 555 111.
From the Coventry Telegraph
Police said that the victim “is likely to have to undergo surgery to repair damage caused to his back following this incident.”
The attack happened at about 9:20 pm on April 23 2017. Police did not release details until May 4.
From the Dorset Echo
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
A spokesperson said “"Luckily none of the firefighters have suffered any lasting effects from the lasers but this could have had serious consequences to the sight of those involved.”
From Express.co.uk and the Lancashire Telegraph
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
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
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
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.
The game was held in Chelsea’s home stadium at Stamford Bridge. The laser appeared to come from the “away” end of the stadium. An announcement was made, in English and Romanian, warning the fans to stop using the laser.
Chelsea player Ashley Cole has laser light aimed onto his face
The manager told reporters the laser did not unduly affect him: “I can’t worry about that during the game. I don’t know if it can create problems or not. But during the game I felt it a couple of times. I felt the green, I felt no pain.”
Chelsea went on to win the match 1-0.
From SuperSport, the London Evening Standard and VitalFootball.co.uk
From the Shields Gazette
The lasers were not labeled. The North Somerset Council warned the beam “could be seen 100m away” and “can actually cause serious and permanent damage to the eye.”
From the Weston Mercury 24
He told police that youths carried out the lasing. Police searched the area but did not find any suspects.
From This Is Plymouth
The shopkeeper had cuts and bruises but did not provide any money to the robber.
From the Lancashire Evening Post
Note from LaserPointerSafety.com: We monitor news reports of laser misuse. One reason for this is to try to get an idea of the relative rate of events such as harassment of the public and of sports figures, aiming at automobiles, aiming at airplanes, etc. We see relatively few reports such as the one above, but have listed it as part of this coverage.
A police spokesman said the laser light “not only distracted the driver and potentially damaged his eye, but it also could have had serious safety consequences for the passengers. The driver's attention was averted from his job of safely controlling the train…. He is currently awaiting the results of medical assessments on his eye and is in some degree of pain. We are hopeful he'll make a full recovery but, at this stage, he is in some discomfort."
Police are asking for assistance in finding two youths seen on a footbridge off Southfield Road in White City.
From this is Gloucestershire and BBC News Gloucestershire
UPDATE February 14 2012: The train driver “is recovering and should return to work next week”, according to a spokesperson for First Great Western quoted by BBC News Gloucestershire. The story also said that there had been six laser-train incidents on the FGW network from January 2011 through February 14 2012, and that the February 9 incident had the most serious impact on the driver.
Despite the distraction, Gerrard made the game-winning goal against Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart:
There was no indication in news stories whether the pen-wielding laser lout was identified.
From The Telegraph
Officers searched for suspects but did not find anyone. British Transport Police warn the public against misuse of laser pens.
Police are trying to track down the person(s) in Shotton Colliery, south of Newcastle Upon Tyne, who shined a laser on the 24 Arriva bus service to Peterlee. In addition to the laser attack, there have been other reports of misbehavior in the area from youths in East Durham Homes council accommodations.
From the Sunderland Echo
Police received several calls that a group of people in a silver people carrier was shining a green laser on the A40 near Witney, at about 8 p.m on September 15 2011. Police also were contacted by air traffic control staff after an aircraft was targeted with a green laser at 8 p.m. The police declined to release details of the flight or its effect, if any, on the flight until statements had been taken from the pilots and crew. The fine for aiming at aircraft is up to £2,500.
From the Witney Gazette. This news item is being cross-posted in on the News/Aviation incidents page as well.
Click to read more...
The burn site on the youth’s right eye
Drivers Michael Jonah and Timothy Reiffer suffered temporary blindness, but managed to bring their trains safely to a halt.
Cardiff Crown Court was told that the safety of hundreds of commuters was jeopardised and the cost of the disruption was put at £13,000.Click to read more...
They join many others who have fallen victim to a device that experts say is too dangerous to be used by the untrained.
At the Paris Indoor Tennis Open two weeks ago, the Australian Patrick Rafter became a victim. A laser beam shone by a spectator was directed at the player's face. The game had to be halted while he recovered. Other sportsmen and pop stars have been targeted too.
In South Yorkshire one bus company has recorded 32 separate incidents in the past month. Drivers say they have been picked out by people intent on causing an accident.Click to read more...
More details at the BBC News website.
The Reds wizard was targeted during the warm-up and in the first half of United’s 1-1 Champions League draw in Lyon.
Manager Alex Ferguson, relieved at Carlos Tevez’s 87th-minute equaliser, said: “We reported it to UEFA. We noticed it before the game. They tried to deal with it but I don’t know how much longer it went on.”
Ronaldo made no comment about the incident, though he did not have one of his better nights on the pitch.
From The Sun (UK). The link has a video capture showing the footballer with a large green spot on his face.