Children with behavioural problems may hurt themselves with laser pointers, and eye-care professionals should be alert to the risk, researchers say.
The devices are widely available, and their labels do not adequately convey the danger, according to E. Linton at Bolton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Bolton, UK, and colleagues.
“Regulatory authorities and manufacturers of handheld lasers need to be aware of the risk to children,” they wrote in their article for Eye.
Having encountered both children and adults with ocular injuries from laser pointers, the authors queried the literature and surveyed 990 consultant ophthalmologists in the UK by email to gauge the extent of the problem.
The literature review turned up 84 cases of handheld laser burns in children age 18 years or younger. Among them, the researchers found a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, a child with known learning difficulties, a child undergoing psychological treatment, and a young person referred for psychological treatment following a road accident. The visual acuity, where reported, ranged from 6/18 to 6/60 Snellen in 24% and was worse than 6/60 Snellen in 5%.