A comprehensive resource for safe and responsible laser use

Israel: Protesters aiming laser pointers at drivers

Palestinian protesters aimed laser pointers at Israeli drivers, to temporarily blind them, according to a December 28 2015 news report.

The attacks happened at least three times on different routes in the West Bank.

An earlier report, from November 5 2014, describes an attack:

The [Jewish] driver reports that an Arab motorist came up next to his car, and used a laser to try and blind him and cause him to lose control of the vehicle.

"He came up next to me and aimed the laser at my face for several long seconds," the driver told Arutz Sheva.

"He tried to divert my view from the road so that I would crash. By a miracle I managed to escape...it's clear that he tried to kill me," reported the driver.


From the Algemeiner (2015) and Arutz Sheva

US: Bronx bus driver sees doctor after passenger aims red laser at him

A 52-year-old bus driver had a red laser beam shone in his eye by a passenger, on November 18 2015. The New York Metropolitan Transit Authority bus BX15 was on its route in the Bronx with about 25 passengers aboard when driver Kenneth Johnson saw a flash of red laser light that temporarily blinded him. He stopped the bus and the passengers — including the unknown person with the laser — got off.

Johnson went to a hospital and had an eye examination the next day. (No results were reported as of November 19.)

Because the bus has cameras, the video will be used to try to identify the perpetrator.

According to WABC, this is the first laser incident involving a New York City bus driver.

From WABC

Australia: Teen injures both eyes by looking into laser pointer

A 14-year-old Australian permanently damaged his retinas by deliberately shining a laser pointer into his eyes “for a very brief period of time”, according to the optometrist who examined the teen.

From a November 5 news account, it appears the injury occurred on Friday October 30 2015. The boy saw a general practitioner the following Monday, who then referred the teen to Ben Armitage, a Hobart (Tasmania) optometrist.

Armitage said the boy did not feel pain during the exposure, but he immediately lost visual acuity. “His vision is down to about 25 percent of what we call 20/20 vision and unfortunately at this stage it’s unlikely that vision is ever going to recover.”

Retina laser damage 2015-11-5 Australia
Retina of one of the teen’s two eyes that were damaged by a self-inflicted laser pointer exposure. The injury occurred near the macula. At the center of the macula is the fovea, responsible for sharp central vision.


The damaged area is still swollen; Armitage hopes that some vision may be restored when the swelling recedes.

An Optometry Tasmania spokesperson warned parents not to allow children unsupervised access to laser pointers “and, in fact, better off trying to warn them off because we’ve just seen in this particular case where the future lifestyle of this young person has been seriously affected.”

From ABC (Australia) News

Germany: Bus driver's eye injured by laser pointer aimed by child

An October 5 2015 report in the British Medical Journal Case Reports describes a public bus driver who suffered retinal injury due to a schoolboy aiming a red laser beam into a mirror on the bus, reflecting into the driver’s eyes.

Diagram of laser pointer on bus

The 44-year-old driver stared into the laser several times, as he tried to identify the person holding the laser. He suffered blurred vision in his right eye immediately after the exposure, but waited 6 months before having his first complete eye exam.

The exam showed “spot-like retinal pigment epithelium disturbances temporal to the fovea of the right eye, with no abnormalities in his left eye.” The authors stated that “The subjective complaints and objective ophthalmological findings of this patient were consistent and strongly suggested that the repetitive exposure of the eye to the reflected laser spot 6 months previously had caused subtle but detectable injury to the macula.”

The authors concluded with two “Learning points”:

  • “We suggest that no laser pointers of any class are made available to children, since they are unlikely to understand the risks of permanent retinal damage.”

  • “For the safety of users and the general public, even low-energy handheld laser pointers should not be sold to children.”

The authors did not identify the location of the incident, but it may be Germany since three of the four authors’ institutions were in Germany. Additional analysis and commentary is below (click the “Read More…” link).

From Thanos S, Böhm MRR, Meyer zu Hörste M, et al. “Retinal damage induced by mirror-reflected light from a laser pointer” BMJ Case Reports. Retrieved online: 2015 Nov 05, doi:10.1136/bcr-2015- 210311.
Click to read more...

US: Blue laser pointer said to injure ferry captain in Washington state

The captains of a Washington state ferry were each hit by blue laser light, aimed at them by a man in his twenties from a passing ferry. The October 22 2015 incident lasted about a minute, and resulted in eye injuries to one of the captains. Also, earlier that same evening, a motorcyclist on Whidbey Island had a blue laser aimed at him while going to the ferry terminal.

This map shows the ferries’ route. The map’s indicated positions of the ferries are from a later time and do NOT show their position during the laser incident.

Washington State ferries map

At about 8:30 pm, the ferry M/V Tokitae (shown below) was approaching the Clinton (Wash.) Ferry Terminal. The captains were at wheelhouses on opposite ends of the 362-foot-long ferry. The one piloting the vessel was hit first, and suffered injuries.

Washington State Ferry MV Tokitae 01

According to Washington State Ferries Port Captain Jay Mooney, the man had “third-degree burns on his eyelid and his vision is still not quite back at 100 percent.” (A first-degree burn occurs only on the surface of the skin. A third-degree burn “extends to all layers of the skin,” according to the Wikipedia “Burn” article.)

The blue laser beam came from the slightly smaller ferry M/V Kitsap, which was traveling in the opposite direction.

Washington State Ferry MV Kitsap 328ft

A Kitsap deckhand had seen two men with the laser, and reported it to a Washington State Patrol trooper after arrival at the terminal in Mukilteo. One man told the officer that “it was a new toy and he was shining it at the water and didn’t mean to shine it at the vessel,” according to a WSP spokesperson. The trooper confiscated the laser pointer, shown here:

Blue laser Washington state ferry

The spokesperson said “This is not a typical laser you’d see in a classroom or office setting.” She referenced the manufacturer’s packaging which says to use safety glasses, to not aim it at faces, and that it could light a match if held on target long enough.

A similar-looking laser sold by Lasers-Pointers.com is said to be 5000 mW (5 watts) and costs less than $200:

Lasers-Pointers dot com 5W blue laser

The two captains exposed to the laser light missed one day of work. The suspect who had the laser has not yet been charged, as of October 29 2015. Prosecutors are determining what charges would be appropriate.

UPDATED - November 9 2015: No arrests have yet been made and no charges have been filed, more than two weeks after a suspect was picked up. This is due in part to determining what jursidiction applied, since the laser incident took place on ferries in waters between different Washington state counties. Another difficulty was determining what charge to file. A KIRO radio story also noted the limitations of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which regulates lasers. While FDA attempts to block some high-powered lasers, imports can get through. And, “there aren't any penalties for buying or owning those illegally high-powered devices, nor are there requirements for training for non-medical, non-industrial devices.” From MyNorthwest.com

UPDATED - April 18 2015: 27-year-old Mark Raden was charged with assault in the third degree, for aiming at the ferry captains. In addition, he has a previous history of run-ins with law enforcement over laser misuse. Details are here.

An analysis of the laser’s power and capabilities is below (click on the “read more” link).

From KOMO News, Q13Fox, the Kitsap Sun and Wikipedia. Ferry drawings and route map from Washington State Department of Transportation website. Laser pointer info from Lasers-Pointers.com.

Click to read more...

Italy: Prosecutor investigating manslaughter charges in three cases of eye damage to children from laser pointers

In three separate cases, children in the area of Bologna have suffered eye damage caused by laser pointers.

The cases were reported in mid-September 2015 by the St. Ursula Ophthalmology Hospital in Bologna. One of the children was 10; the other two were 13.

The injuries were caused by laser pointers bought by their parents (in two cases) or grandmother (in the third case) in markets in Florence or Bologna. One child had a slight loss of vision, another had significant loss in both eyes, and a third has almost lost his sight and is legally blind.

A public prosecutor, Valter Giovannini, has opened an investigation for aggravated manslaughter against unknown assailants. This seems to indicate that in all three cases, the laser pointer bought by or for the children was used against them by another person.

As a result of the report, Carabinieri NAS (Nuclei Antisofisticazioni e Sanità or “Anti Fraud Squad”), a special police force operating under the Italian ministry of health, seized fifteen illegally-sold laser pointers.

The hospital warned the public not to purchase green laser pointers sold “on the street, in the stalls and fairs.” A spokesperson said higher-powered pointers such as those aimed at players in stadiums were to be avoided. Professional laser pointers used in lectures should not be a problem.

From Corriere di Bologna. Thanks to Alberto Kellner Ongaro for bringing this to our attention.

US: Officers in Green Bay targeted by laser during gun search

A man was arrested on September 7 2015 for aiming a laser pointer at Green Bay, Wisconsin police.

The officers had been searching at about 11 p.m. for a person who threatened someone with a gun. While the police did not find the person, during the search a laser dot was repeatedly aimed onto one of the officers.

A witness described how the laser “starts at the lower part of his torso and works his way up, as if somebody is zoning or eyeing in their weapon at this officer, and that’s exactly what this officer that saw this laser was thinking. He thinks somebody is pointing a laser at a target location on an officer to engage him and shoot him.”

According to a news report, “[t]he officers took cover and followed the laser more than a block away.” Officers confronted Jeffrey Klopotic at his home; the 45-year-old fought with the officers. They found Klopotic had a laser pointer. He was arrested and charged with resisting an officer, obstructing police, intention of directing a laser pointer at an officer, and disorderly conduct.

Jeffrey Klopotic laser
Jeffrey Klopotic

Because guns are often equipped with laser sights, police are worried whenever a laser dot appears on or near them. TV station WBAY purchased a $25 laser pointer and tested it side-by-side along with a laser gun sight. A former police captain they consulted could not tell the difference between the pointer’s dot and the gun sight’s dot.

A Green Bay police spokesman said “When you hear that eight officers are shot in nine days, yeah, it’s certainly going to get the hair on the back of your neck to stand up a little more. People have got to be mindful of what they’re doing, and the decision to do such a thing. It could have ended tragically.”

From WBAY; photo from Arrests.org.

US: Paparazzi call police after Jennifer Garner's bodyguard aims a laser pointer at them

A bodyguard for Jennifer Garner aimed a green laser pointer at paparazzi photographers, who then called police. The August 11 2015 incident occurred at about 11:20 am in the small town of Covington, Georgia (pop. 13,347; 35 miles southeast of Atlanta) where the movie star was filming “Miracles from Heaven.”

According to the Covington News, the photographers told police that the laser light could possibly damage their camera sensors; they also “complained of headaches and said their eyes were starting to dilate.” Emergency medical responders told them “to take Tylenol for their headache.”

Because the local District Attorney’s office said that using a laser pointer was not a criminal offense (except when aimed at a law enforcement office or airplane), the photographers were told that it was a civil matter. No criminal charges were filed.

From the Covington News

Wales: Laser from shore delays lifeboat sea rescue

A lifeboat crew member was temporarily blinded by a laser aimed from shore, during a rescue operation to tow a catamaran to safety in choppy seas. The August 2 2015 incident took place off the Vale of Glamorgan coast, southeast of the town of Porthcawl in South Wales.

A green beam was repeatedly aimed at both of Porthcawl’s lifeboats during the rescue of the crew and the catamaran. The helmsman “was able to recover his vision and resume the operation soon after,” according to a news account.

South Wales police were called to the scene by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution in Porthcawl, but did not find the perpetrator. They are asking the public for any information.

From Wales Online

US: Laser on gun pointed at teens by off-duty trooper

Two New Jersey teenagers say that on July 26 2015, a man with a gun followed them, they saw a laser being pointed at them, and then the man opened fire. The man later turned out to be an off-duty state trooper using what the state attorney general’s office says was his personal handgun.

From NJ.com

UK: Youth gang aims laser pens at firefighters

A group of about 10 youths in Blackburn, Lancashire set a fire to attract firefighters, then attacked them by throwing furniture and aiming laser pens at them. Two crew members, including the fire engine driver, had lasers shown into their eyes in the July 24 2015 incident.

A spokesperson said “"Luckily none of the firefighters have suffered any lasting effects from the lasers but this could have had serious consequences to the sight of those involved.”

From Express.co.uk and the Lancashire Telegraph

China, Korea: Lasers aimed at Korean pop band EXO during Beijing concert

Laser light was aimed at the face and eyes of K-pop band EXO during a two-day tour stop in Beijing, July 18 and 19 2015. There were no reported injuries, but “laser” became a trending term in Korean social media after images were uploaded of laser light on the faces of the boy band performers.

EXO lasers Beijing

EXO lasers 2 Beijing

EXO lasers 3 Beijing
This photo shows a red light coming from the audience area, aimed towards the stage.


From Koreaboo, Kpop Chart, and KpopStarz

US: Tennessee man "nearly causes accident' aiming laser pointer at cars on Interstate

A 34-year-old Chattanooga (TN) man was arrested for aiming a green laser pointer at vehicles on Interstate 75.

A motorist called 911 to report that a male in the front passenger seat of a silver Honda was shining the laser onto cars and trucks. The caller said the laser made it difficult to see, and almost caused a crash involving an 18-wheel truck and another vehicle. The Honda was traveling northbound on I-75 in Bradley County, east of Chattanooga.

Officers located the car, where Gary Dewayne Couey admitted aiming the laser at other vehicles. He was arrested on a charge of felony reckless endangerment. The driver of the car, 34-year-old Brandi Rapier, was charged with misdemeanor reckless endangerment.

Gary Dewayne Couey laser
Gary Dewayne Couey


From WDEF, the Chattanoogan, and the Times Free Press

Scotland: UEFA opens investigation about laser pointer aimed at Aberdeen player

UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) has opened an investigation into a July 2 2015 match between the Aberdeen Dons and KF Shkendija in Macedonia. Dons goalkeeper Danny Ward had a laser aimed into his face by Shkendija fans.

UEFA could impose a fine of €10,000 on the Macedonian club.

Aberdeen Dons Danny Ward laser
Laser light in goalkeeper Danny Don’s face


From the
Herald and the Evening Express

US: San Mateo CA police report elderly man with cane aiming laser at cars around 3 am

The San Mateo County police report for June 29 2015 included this item:

  • BURLINGAME: Suspicious person. An elderly man with a cane was pointing a laser pointer at passing vehicles on Linden Avenue and Oak Grove Avenue before 2:50 a.m.

From the
San Mateo Daily Journal, published July 6 2015

Canada: Laser pointer aimed at motorist causes near-accident

A July 6 2015 story in the Simco (Ontario) Reformer mentions a May 2015 incident where a driver nearly had an accident due to laser pointer blinding: “Norfolk OPP investigated a case in May where a laser pointer was directed into the eyes of a motorist, who then almost drove off the road….”

The July 6 story was about an air ambulance helicopter that was targeted by a laser on July 4. Police were searching for the perpetrator.

From the
Simcoe Informer. This item was of interest to LaserPointerSafety.com since we have heard of only a couple of reports where laser light caused a potential driving accident. As of July 6 2015, we have not heard of an actual accident caused by persons aiming laser light at vehicle drivers.

US: Kentucky police shoot man who aimed gun, laser pointer at them

A 51-year-old Kentucky man who aimed a handgun and a laser pointer at state police was shot on May 9 2015.

Police executing a search warrant at an Eddyville home knocked on the door and identified themselves. John C. Smith came to the door, and aimed the gun and pointer at them. Police told him several times to drop the gun. He refused and was shot in the abdomen.

He lived but was taken to the intensive care unit at a Paducah hospital.

Police found crystal meth, several guns and a “large amount of cash” at the home.

From Kentucky.com

US: Colorado senior used laser pointer while stalking 10-year-old neighbor girl

A 67-year-old Green Mountain Falls, Colorado man convicted of stalking a 10-year-old neighbor girl, used a laser pointer as part of his crimes. Louis Pico aimed the pointer at the girl’s window at night. When she looked out, he would expose himself to the girl.

In addition, the man left notes, money and candy for the girl, and used binoculars to look into their home.

Louis Pico laser stalker
Louis Pico


To avoid having their child testify at a trial, the victim’s parents agreed to a plea bargain deal. Pico pleaded guilty to promotion of obscenity in a minor. He received a 30-day jail sentence, was registered as a sex offender, was forbidden to have any contact with persons 18 or younger, and was required to have mental health treatment.

From KKTV 11 News and The Gazette

US: Florida man points laser at motorists, arrested, found with marijuana up his rear

A 27-year-old man was arrested on April 5 2015 for aiming a laser beam at motorists as he was driven by his girlfriend around Ormond Beach, Florida. When asked why she was being pulled over, driver Brandie Tate, 28, said “Because Jesse was shining the laser light at people and I told him not to.” Passenger Jesse Roepcke told police he did not know it was illegal to shine the light at people and “he was just having fun.”

Police found a smoking device on Roepke that later tested positive for cannabis. During a strip search of Roepcke at the jail, “a bag of a green leafy substance that smelled like marijuana fell out of his rectum.”

Jesse Roepcke laser marijuana
Jesse Roepcke


Roepke was charged with pointing a laser at a driver or pilot, possession or use of narcotic paraphernalia, possession of marijuana, and smuggling contraband into a prison.

From ClickOrlando.com and WFTV.com

US: Man stabbed in Pittsburgh after asking persons to stop shining laser pointer at him

A man in Pittsburgh was stabbed with a knife, after he approached two people and asked them to stop shining a laser pointer at him. The victim was with friends on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh, around March 15 2015. After asking for the laser aiming to stop, the male suspect told the victim “You shouldn’t have walked up on us like that” and stabbed him in the upper arm with a blade about 5-6” long. The second suspect was a female. University of Pittsburgh campus police were asking for the public’s help in finding the suspects.

From CBS Pittsburgh