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November 2001

Concerns About Laser Pointers and Macular Damage

Arch Ophthalmol. 2001;119(11):1731. doi:

Although we find the results of the study by Robertson et al1 interesting, we are concerned with the interpretation of these results and with the authors' conclusions. In this clinicopathologic study, the authors exposed 3 eyes with uveal melanoma to class 3A laser pointer light at a power range of 0.86 to 6.3 mW. Foveal exposure time was 60 seconds, and extrafoveal exposure was as long as 15 minutes. The authors reported that they could not demonstrate functional, anatomic, or angiographic abnormalities in these eyes. Two eyes examined using electron microscopy had photoreceptor and retinal pigment epithelial abnormalities. In 1 of these eyes the authors found similar, possibly artifactual, changes in a nonexposed area of the retina, making the interpretation of these studies equivocal. They concluded that although they were unable to deny laser pointer-induced ultrastructural retinal abnormalities, "the potential for laser pointers to cause eye damage has been exaggerated" and "is negligible." We find this reassuring conclusion premature and potentially misleading.

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