Teenager permanently impairs eyesight after playing with laser pointers
The 14-year-old loses 75 per cent of vision after looking into laser pointer; the damage is irreversible and cannot be fixed by corrective lenses
This Tasmanian teenager didn’t know that, when he was playing with his laser pointer, he had permanently damaged his eyes. And now optometrists warn that laser pointers are not toys.
"He came into see me and on the Friday night he'd got hold of a laser pen and unfortunately shined it in his eyes for a very brief period of time," said Hobart optometrist Ben Armitage.
He had received a call on from a GP asking him to investigate why the 14-year-old boy was having vision problems.
“The back of his eyes on both sides are showing laser burns, so he's actually managed to burn the retina at the back of the eye near an area called the macular,” Mr Armitage said.
“Unfortunately that's the area where your detailed central vision takes place and therefore it's had somewhat of an exaggerated effect on how much sight he's lost.”
The teenager said that he did not feel any pain when he looked into the laser pointer, but the impact on his vision was almost immediate.
"His vision is down to about 25 per cent of what we call 20/20 vision and unfortunately at this stage it's unlikely that that vision is going to recover," he said.
With 75 per cent of his vision lost, the teenager will no longer be able to see where the laser burned his eyes.
Glasses won't repair the damage
Dr. Armitage compared the teen’s eyes with camera lenses and sensors. It does not matter how good the lens you put on the front of the camera. It won’t overcome the damage that has been made to the film or the back sensor.
"So you're also going to have an area of vision, and unfortunately his area of vision is central, that is going to be essentially missing.”
"If parents purchase or allow their children to have access to these [laser] pens they ought to supervise them very, very carefully and, in fact, better off trying to warn them off them because we've just seen in this particular case where the future lifestyle of this young person has been seriously affected," said Chief executive of Optomery Tasmania Geoff Squibb.
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