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September 1965

Accidental Laser Burn of the Macula

Author Affiliations

McMinnville, Ore

Arch Ophthalmol. 1965;74(3):346-348. doi:10.1001/archopht.1965.00970040348010

The laser era was initiated by the theoretical development of the maser principle by Schawlow and Townes1 in 1958, and its actual demonstration by Maiman2 in 1960. Then there was extensive effort throughout the world, particularly in this country, to define the laser's physical, biological, and military potentials. Studies by Flock and Zweng,3 also Campbell and his associates,4 among others, have indicated potential usefulness of the laser in ophthalmology, but Zaret5 and Jacobson6 have added words of caution. This report concerns the first laser burn of the macula which has been carefully documented. It validates Zaret's warning that the initial burn may not be visible, yet leave a permanent loss of vision and a lesion that is readily seen at a later date.

In February 1964, a student at a nearby college accidentally viewed a laser beam with his right eye. I examined him