Pet Laser Pointers and a New Optical Scanner Tell a Tale

Laser pointers advertised as pet toys present themselves as simple, low-power items. However, such laser pointers can cause permanent eye damage even though they are “low-power” as one Ohio teen learned.

The boy’s unfortunate but minimal vision loss is just one part of the story. The other part is about a high-res optical imaging machine develop by researchers at the Ohio State University. Using this machine, researchers were able to reveal, in high detail, how the cells in the boy’s eye retinas are simply gone.

This is the are of the eye that contains the light-sensitive cells or photoreceptors. Many of us learned about them as rods and cones in school. These allow us to see. They are most dense in the retina and allow us vision and color.

The researchers pointed out that in part of the boy’s retina there was simply nothing there, that the effected area was devoid of cones.

It was only possible to see this damage in detail with the optical scanning machine. The case study will be published in Retinal Cases and Brief Reports. It is both a cautionary tale about simple laser pointers but is also the first published report of laser eye damage capture by this new optical scanning machine in which the exact extent of damage can be seen.