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November 1999

Blinded by the Light—NOT!

Arch Ophthalmol. 1999;117(11):1547-1548. doi:10.1001/archopht.117.11.1547

LASER POINTER incidents have captured national and local attention. Musicians, athletes, police officers, and school bus drivers have been dazzled. Juveniles have annoyed joggers, moviegoers, classmates, and teachers. People have been harassed in their cars and homes. Laws have been passed restricting the sale of laser pointers to minors. The public remains confused by conflicting and often misleading information in press reports on laser pointer safety.

The current issue of ARCHIVES provides important information on the macular consequences of staring into a laser pointer beam. The clinical history and foveal findings of Drs Sell and Bryan in an 11-year-old patient are convincing evidence of laser injury.1 Another reported laser pointer injury in a 34-year-old man is less persuasive2; there was no loss in visual acuity, the lesion was located away from the center of the foveola, fluorescein staining or leakage rather than a window defect would have been expected the day after a laser injury, and stable, prolonged, eccentric fixation of a brilliant laser pointer beam is improbable.