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China: Laser pointers "regularly" harm children's eyes

An August 29 2018 story from Shanghai Daily is headlined "Laser pointers regularly harm children's eyes: doctors"

It notes that an 8-year-old boy playing with a laser pointer suffered irreversible retinal damage to his left eye.

The story says "such cases are not rare" at the Shanghai Xinshijie Eye Hospital.

It also says that a "study conducted by the national quality authority found 29.8 percent of children have had access to laser products, laser pointers being the most common." It is not known what other, non-pointer, laser products were included in the study.

According to the story, the "government has issued a warning to alert parents not to buy laser pointers as toys for their children, but they are still widely available in local stationery stores. Most laser pointers don’t come with safety alerts to warn of the dangers present." The story did not say whether this was a national, provincial or local government warning.

From Shine News (Shanghai Daily)

US: Man crushed, killed in industrial laser cutting machine

A 26-year-old man died after being crushed in an industrial laser cutter on July 12 2018. The unnamed man became “caught between the laser and the loader that feeds sheets of metal into the laser to be cut”, according to an employee of Industrial Metal Products in Sharon, Mass.

He was trapped for about an hour and was conscious during the rescue. He died after being transported by ambulance to a hospital.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration will investigate the death.

From Boston 25 News

UK: Green laser "attack" on lifeboat; mission proceeds

A Royal National Lifeboat Institution lifeboat crew was illuminated by green laser light as they searched for a missing person on July 9 2018 near Redcar, North Yorkshire.

The RNLI launching authority said “This was an appalling, reckless attack on our crew. They were navigating in near total darkness. The laser could have permanently damaged any of the crew’s vision had it shone directly into their eyes. Not only could it have done serious harm to our volunteers, it might well have jeopardized the rescue mission and put other lives at risk.”

None of the crew were harmed. The lifeboat continued its search; the missing person was eventually found by a police helicopter.

From TeessideLive

US: Indianapolis teen injured by laser pointer five years ago shares story

In 2013, 12-year-old Ross Vanderpool and a friend were playing with a laser pointer when Vanderpool injured his eye. The incident happened in Indianapolis although the laser was obtained from Italy (and had no informational labeling).

Vanderpool told his story in June 2018, to try to warn others to be careful about laser pointers. He said “We watched Star Wars and they had laser guns so we really didn’t know how dangerous it was.”

While he still has unspecified damage, treatment helped to repair much of the damage.

According to a news story, “the Indiana Academy of Ophthalmology and the Indiana State Medical Association are working on a resolution to deal with the laser pointer issue. They hope to release their findings by the end of September [2018].”

From RTV6 The Indy Channel

Commentary from LaserPointerSafety.com: Star Wars depicts lasers as weapons — not as toys. People die or are severely injured by the laser blasters and laser-like lightsabers. It is not clear how someone who watches Star Wars would not understand that lasers are dangerous — at least, as used in Star Wars.

Australia: Young teen cautioned after misusing laser pointer at a basketball game

From Tasmania Police:

“As a result of enquiries into the use of a laser pointer at the Ulverstone Basketball Stadium during the Northwest Thunder game Saturday 16 June 2018, a 13 year old youth has been cautioned under the provisions of the Youth Justice Act.

“This incident was reported to police by club representatives after a formal complaint was lodged with the South East Australian Basketball League (SEABL) on Monday. No further action will be taken.

“Members of the public are reminded that it is an offence to possess, carry or use a laser pointer in a public place without a lawful excuse.”


As reported in ForeignAffairs.co.nz and Mirage News

Greece: 9-year-old "repeatedly gazing" into laser causes hole in his eye

A 9-year-old boy in Greece suffered serious, permanent damage to his left eye, after “repeatedly gazing” into a green beam from a laser pointer. (Note: This is not unknown. As of June 21 2018, LaserPointerSafety.com has reported on around 15 other cases of self-inflicted eye injuries.)

The most serious injury that the boy caused was a large hole in his macula, shown with the yellow arrows.

Pic 2018-06-21 at 8.59.23 PM

Two other areas of injury were not immediately visible in a funduscopic exam of the retina (photo A, using ordinary white light) but were clearly visible using fundus autofluorescence imaging (blue arrows in photo B, using a narrow wavelength of light). The round area to the left in both photos is the optic disc, a natural feature where the optic nerve begins — it is not laser damage.

The macula is where central vision occurs. The fact that the injury occurred in the macula indicates that the boy looked directly into the laser light with his left eye. Damage to the macula is serious as this area provides high resolution, color vision in the center of the visual field.

The injury reduced the boy’s vision to 20/100 in the injured left eye; his right eye remained at 20/20. The boy’s ophthalmologists felt the hole was too large and too much time had passed since the injury for surgery. (The doctors suspected that the boy had injured his eye at least a year earlier.) Because surgery might make things worse, causing a cataract without improving the macula, they “favored conservative management.”

There was no improvement in vision even 1 1/2 years after the injury was first presented to the ophthalmologists.

The power of the laser pointer, and other details of the incident, were not described in the one-paragraph report published June 21 2018. One of the authors told CNN the boy’s father “had bought the laser as a toy from a street merchant.”

From the New England Journal of Medicine (N Engl J Med 2018; 378:2420, DOI: 10.1056/NEJMicm1714488) Authors: Sofia Androudi, M.D., Ph.D., and Eleni Papageorgiou, M.D., Ph.D. Additional reporting by CNN. This story was picked up by many other news sites around the world.

Taiwan: 10-year-old playing with laser, trying to avoid eye, but still gets retinal damage

A 10-year-old Taiwanese boy playing with a laser pointer suffered retinal damage, according to a June 13 2018 news story.

The boy was playing with a classmate, trying to dodge the beam. At some point it hit the boy’s left eye. He felt a stinging sensation and became light sensitive.

During a routine eye exam two weeks later, a retinal burn was seen. The boy underwent photocoagulation treatment and will need regular follow-up exams to monitor the eye’s healing, but he did not suffer any vision loss, said Wu Pei-chang, director of the Department of Ophthalmology at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Kaohsiung (third-largest city in Taiwan).

From the Taipei Times

US: California man aims laser at motorists and sheriff's helicopter

A man aimed a green laser beam at motorists on Interstate 15 in Victorville, California, as well as aiming multiple times at a San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department helicopter.

The California Highway Patrol received a number of calls from motorists who saw or were illuminated by the laser light.

James Gilbert Trujillo, 33, was arrested on suspicion of discharging a laser at an aircraft in the June 6 incident. He will appear in court June 11.

From the Victorville Daily Press and San Bernardino Sun. This news item was also filed under the Aviation incident news section.

US: Police officer playing with laser pointer on Taser forgets that Taser is armed; tases colleague

A police officer who was “horseplaying” with the laser pointer on a Taser, forgot that the weapon was armed and accidentally tased a colleague.

On March 27 2018, Officer Dan Sells of the Lafayette (Indiana) Police Department was in a hospital conference room for a debriefing, along with two other officers and a dispatcher. Sells and another officer disarmed their Taser stun guns and began shining the Taser’s laser pointer (used for aiming) at the dispatcher.

Sells became distracted for a few minutes. He then picked up the Taser, intending to continue the laser pointer horseplay. However he forgot he had armed the Taser. When he pulled the trigger to turn on the laser pointer, the Taser fired, sending the electric prongs into the dispatcher’s foot.

He received a five-day suspension for unbecoming conduct, unsatisfactory performance, misuse of department equipment and misusing a weapon.

On May 30 2018 Sells agreed to a 10-day suspension for apparently unrelated charges (in a separate incident) of unbecoming conduct, unsatisfactory performance, and violating evidence-gathering procedures.

From the Journal & Courier

China: Two students with macular burns from laser pointers

Two Chinese students have been treated for eye injuries caused by laser pointers.

In the first case, the macular area of a boy’s eyes were damaged so that he could not see an object at 10 cm. The damage was confirmed by retinal examination.

In the second case, a 15-year-old high school student also has burns on his macular area, from when a classmate aimed a laser pen at him. He could only see objects within 50 cm, and there were scars consistent with those left by clinical lasers.

Both cases were reported by Xie Airui, an eye specialist at the Ineye Hospital of Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Both cases occurred between September 2017 and May 2018.

According to a May 31 2018 news story, laser pens have become popular with some schoolchildren in Chengdu. Many stationery shops sell them for prices between USD $0.80 and $31.00. in 2014 the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine warned consumers about laser pointer hazards. “But no market supervisors have taken up the matter in a serious way, according to Xu Bin, a lawyer in Chengdu.”

From China Daily via Ecns.cn

Ukraine: Six soldiers said to be injured by Russian-backed laser weapons

The following material in blue is from the Kyiv Post, May 28 2018:

At least six Ukrainian servicemen deployed to the Donbas war zone have suffered serious eye damage from unidentified optical radiation devices used by Kremlin-backed militants on several occasions since 2016.

The military believes that the soldiers were likely targeted with blinding laser devices, which Russia brought to Donbas in order to test this new advanced technology in battlefield conditions. If independently confirmed, the usage of such weapons can be qualified as a war crime, according to international law.

Since the war’s outbreak in 2014, there have been at least three such incidents recorded by the State Border Service and the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense.

On July 18, 2016, three Ukrainian border guards deployed to a forward checkpoint between the city of Maryinka just west of Russian-occupied Donetsk suffered severe eye injuries as they surveyed enemy territory in front of them through binoculars and monoculars.

Click to read more...

India: Laser pointer misuse in 2002 said to cause riots and close 600-year-old religious shrine

A May 1 2018 news story about a 600-year-old Indian shrine states that the shrine was closed in 2002 after a riot broke out, instigated in part by misuse of a laser pointer.

The shrine of Madhin Saheb was built in 1444 in Srinagar, a city in the Kashmir Valley. In the late 20th century, the shine was popular with locals and tourists. Sunni and Shia Muslims worshipped together inside the shrine. The article states:

The peace was, however, broken in 2002, after a rumour spread in Srinagar that some miracle had happened inside the shrine. The rumour spread like a wildfire and a number of people rushed to the shrine. Though there are different versions on the incident, the largely accepted one is that Shias claimed that the outer wall of the shrine had some blood spots on it and a “Shia flag was miraculously erected on the roof of the shrine, hence the entire monument belongs to them.”

“It was a mischief done by someone. The blood spots were actually a beam from a laser pointer, a trending device then used as a source of amusement,” says Ghulam Nabi, 62, who was among the hundreds of people present on the spot that day.

He says that soon after this act, riots broke out near the shrine and its adjoining areas leaving many people injured. “It was chaos all around. No one from either sect was ready to listen. It was only after tiresome efforts by police and civil administration that the situation was brought under control,” Nabi says. Following the incident, Department of Archives, Archeology & Museums sealed the shrine, and since then, entry to it is restricted.


The director of the Department of Archives was quoted as saying “Though there has been an improvement in the situation since the day it (shrine) was closed, we do not think that opening this shrine right now would be a reasonable decision. We respect the sentiments of people attached to the shrine, but we have to keep it shut till situation returns to normal. The monument will be opened one day. We see that happening soon, Insha-Allah.”

From the Kashmir Narrator

India: Laser pointers said to harass elephants

Amid a rash of captive elephants going wild in the southwestern Indian state of Kerala comes a claim that laser pointers have been used to provoke the pachyderms.

An April 12 2018 story says that although “[s]evere torture and unscientific handling” can cause problems, that laser pointers also may have been used recently by “a mysterious group with vested interests.”

According to the story, “There were complaints that light beams were shined continuously from a distance into the eyes of elephants paraded at the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram and some other local temples in Thiruvalla and Pathanamthitta. It was alleged that the jumbos turned restive and violent after being blinded with the high-powered laser pointer.”

The story includes a 47-second video clip of an elephant refusing to get onto a truck, while a dot moves around on and near the elephant.

COMMENTARY FRO LASERPOINTERSAFETY.COM

An analysis indicates that the moving dot is not from a laser, but is from internal reflection in the camera lens of a bright light in the scene.

The screenshot below, from one second into the video, shows the dot circled in green, and a bright light circled in red.

elephant alleged laser Kerala India

As the video is played, the dot moves around. Its movements are correlated with the bright light. For example, when the elephant’s body blocks the light, the dot disappears. Because it is a reflection, it moves opposite to the light, and its movement also changes based on the tilt of the camera lens.

In addition, the dot appears yellow or white. This correlates with the light color. Yellow is very uncommon for laser pointers, while there are no “white” laser pointer beams. A green or red dot would indicate an actual laser.

While there may be other incidents of laser pointer misuse in Kerala, the moving dot in this particular video does not, in the view of LaserPointerSafety.com, show a laser dot or any actual (real-world) light on the elephant.

From Manorama Online

US: UPDATED - Laser pointer harassing San Diego families

An unknown person has been aiming a laser pointer at homes in the “upscale, affluent” Mission Hills neighborhood of San Diego, Calif.

A January 25 2018 news report said one resident keeps a “laser log” of the incidents, which can go on for several minutes. The resident said it happened five times in the past two weeks.

Police have been involved in trying to find the perpetrator.

While the green laser light’s location can clearly be seen and photographed, the location is the common-area hallway of an apartment building. No specific person has been identified.

Pic 2018-01-26 at 2.15.24 PM squashed80pct
Pic 2018-01-26 at 2.18.57 PM squashed80pct

According to the news report, “[s]hining a laser into another person’s eyes in California is a misdemeanor with a penalty of up to 30 days in jail.”

From 10news.com

UPDATED - March 27 2018: Blue-green light again was aimed into a Mission Hills home, on March 23 2018. It appears to be coming from the same apartment building as the January incidents. Footage shows homeowner Daniel Wang using a telescope to try to identify the specific location in the apartment building. (Note: A person should not use a telescope or binoculars to look in the direction of a laser, since the optics can focus the beam and make it more dangerous than looking at the beam with the naked eye.) From 10news.com.

India: UPDATED - 200+ students have eye problems after New Years Eve laser light show

Students at a laser show in India had symptoms of eye irritation. Below is a story from The News Minute about the show.

After the “read more” link are more stories, plus speculation that the cause might be ultraviolet light, or chemical irritation from fog or smoke.

NYE laser show leaves 200 students in Andhra with eye irritation

The children's eyes began watering and had turned red when they got up the next morning.

Around 40 students of a private school in Andhra Pradesh's Parvathipuram village in Vizianagaram district had to be given medical treatment, after their eyes began to swell on Monday morning [January 1 2018].

The 40 students, along with 200 others, began complaining of irritation and pain in their eyes, after they were reportedly exposed to lights and lasers during a show, as part of the school's New Year's Eve celebrations.

The children's eyes began watering, and had turned red when they got up the next morning.

As the children began complaining, worried parents staged a protest and demanded answers from the school.

Following this, doctors rushed to the school and administered first-aid, before assuring those who had gathered, that the kids would not lose eyesight.

“We prescribed eye drops and ointment for the affected children,” a doctor told the
Times of India.

Meanwhile, Vizianagaram district Collector Vivek Yadav was informed of the incident, and directed the Revenue Divisional Officer (RDO) of Parvathipuram, P Sudarsan Dora, to visit the school along with Mandal Educational Officer P Krishna Murthy.

Circle Inspector G Rambabu also visited the school along with the officials, and spoke to the children, to collect more details regarding the case. Further details are awaited.

Click the “read more” link to see additional updated stories, plus speculation on the possible cause.     Click to read more...