Toy lasers can cause serious eye damage in kids, FDA warns

Laser products may seem like fun children’s toys, but the highly-concentrated beams may actually pose some serious health risks.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning to parents about the use of lasers, saying that if the lights are operated unsafely, they can cause serious eye injuries and even blindness.  And it’s not just the person handling the laser who is at risk, but anyone who is within range of the beam.

"A beam shone directly into a person's eye can injure it in an instant, especially if the laser is a powerful one,” said Dan Hewett, health promotion officer at the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health.

Injuries from lasers can go unnoticed for days or even weeks since they usually don’t hurt.  However, these injuries can cause vision to deteriorate slowly over time, eventually causing permanent eye damage.

To better ensure the safety of children and those around them, the FDA has released a draft guidance document on how to properly use toy laser products.

A laser is a device that generates an intense, focused beam of monochromatic light or other type of electromagnetic radiation.   While lasers are used in many modern technological products such as music players and printers, they can also be found in many children’s toys – such as toy guns and spinning tops.

The FDA is responsible for regulating radiation-emitting electronic products, including lasers.

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