Nav: Home

Over-the-counter laser pointers a threat to eyesight

August 18, 2016

Laser pointers bought legally for less than $AU30 are a threat to eyesight - with one pointer found to be 127 times over the Australian legal limit.

RMIT University researchers in Melbourne, Australia, found that green lasers were most dangerous, with all four models tested failing Australian standards.

Now they are calling on government to consider banning green lasers. In the meantime, they are recommending authorities to implement stringent testing and quality control.

Dr Kate Fox, a senior lecturer in RMIT's School of Engineering, said the laser pointers could be bought by anyone, including children, over the counter or online.

"All the green laser pointers we tested were from 51 to 127 times over the 1 milliwatt government safety limit.

"At that upper level, the beam would cause catastrophic retinal damage."

Fox, working with RMIT ophthalmologists, Adjunct Associate Professor Marc Sarossy and Alfred Hospital doctor Matthew Hao Lee, tested four models of green laser pointer and four models of red.

Sarossy said three of the four red models were within safety limits. "There can still be some risk, but our normal response to visible light is to blink and turn away - and that's usually enough to avoid any permanent damage.

"But green lasers produce much more infrared radiation, which does not trigger our natural blink and aversion responses.

"Green lasers also produce a much more focused spot than red lasers, with a higher risk of damaging the retina."

The research team found that imported laser pointers were poorly made, with manufacturers tempted to skip installing infrared-blocking filters to hold down costs.

Fox said their findings raised important public safety questions and called for organisations like the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists to join the debate.

The team's research will be presented at the IEEE Engineers in Medicine and Biology Society conference in Orlando, Florida, on August 18.
-end-


RMIT University

Related Research Articles:


Related Research Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Digital Manipulation
Technology has reshaped our lives in amazing ways. But at what cost? This hour, TED speakers reveal how what we see, read, believe — even how we vote — can be manipulated by the technology we use. Guests include journalist Carole Cadwalladr, consumer advocate Finn Myrstad, writer and marketing professor Scott Galloway, behavioral designer Nir Eyal, and computer graphics researcher Doug Roble.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#529 Do You Really Want to Find Out Who's Your Daddy?
At least some of you by now have probably spit into a tube and mailed it off to find out who your closest relatives are, where you might be from, and what terrible diseases might await you. But what exactly did you find out? And what did you give away? In this live panel at Awesome Con we bring in science writer Tina Saey to talk about all her DNA testing, and bioethicist Debra Mathews, to determine whether Tina should have done it at all. Related links: What FamilyTreeDNA sharing genetic data with police means for you Crime solvers embraced...