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On May 21 2016 Anthony Vella, 20, was trying out a laser pointer purchased as a gift for him by his brother, to see how far the light was visible. Two transport command police officers saw the laser being used, and charged Vella with using a laser pointer in a public place. They also confiscated the pointer. In testing, they noted that the laser dot was “clearly visible” on a wall 500 meters away.
On July 26 2016 Vella pleaded guilty. His lawyer said Vella was not aware that use of a laser pointer in a public place was illegal.
The judge ruled that Vella broke the law but did not record a criminal conviction due to Vella’s prior good character and lack of malicious intent.
From the Illawarra Mercury
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 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
Nevarez had purchased the laser earlier in the evening. Riding as a passenger in his girlfriend’s car, he began aiming the laser at oncoming cars, including the officer’s car.
After later told a reporter for the Daytona Beach News-Journal that he did not know it was illegal to misuse a laser pointer. He said he had been pointing it at a treeline and did not intend it to shine it at anyone’s eyes.
A defense attorney quoted by the newspaper said “If you are going to criminalize the conduct or behavior, then the government needs to explain and make the public aware why their action poses a potential danger.”
From the Daytona Beach News-Journal
The injury to her fovea is permanent. In a machine-translated statement, she said “All fuzzy horrors bothers me the light. I sense what I see on the screen, but I can not really read and, of course, I dare not drive.”
The clinic says this is the first case it has seen of permanent retinal damage by a laser pointer.
The woman’s husband purchased three lasers in a tourist area of Shanghai, for €30 (USD $40). One emitted a red beam, one a blue beam and one a green beam. The spower was said to be between 500 and 6,000 milliwatts (1/2 to 6 watts). There were no user warnings on the laser.
The clinic believes the laser was not aimed directly in the eye, but was probably reflected off an object. While the article and machine-translation are not clear, it is possible that one or more of the lasers used a diffraction grating to create multiple “stars”. The article discusses lasers that “allow decorative figures with the laser on the surface” and then quotes the victim as saying “Ours were beautiful: creating colorful stars in the sky.”
From LaVanguardia.com. Original article in Spanish here; Google machine translation into English here. Thanks to Jose-Maria Silvestre on the LinkedIn Laser Safety Professionals group for bringing this to our attention.
A Harbor Police spokesperson told LaserPointerSafety.com “neither officer was injured in the latest incident” and “the laser used in this incident was much less powerful than the one used” in the May 4 2012 lasing, when two San Diego Harbor Police officers were taken to UC San Diego Medical Center after their boat was lased. One officer was said to have had a temporary injury in one eye.
Approximate locations of the lasers (green triangles) and Harbor Police boats (red squares).