Can a laser pointer hurt your eyes?

A 15 year old boy was referred with a 3 day history of blurry vision in his left eye. On examination his vision was 6/5 in his right eye and 6/18 in his left eye. Anterior segment was unremarkable. Posterior segment examination a normal fundus in his right eye and small focal yellow opacity in his left eye.

High definition OCT images of the right was unremarkable. (Figure 1). High definition OCT image of the left eye shows a focal disruption of the outer segment. (Figure 2).


Figure 1: HD OCT demonstrating a normal retina.


Figure 2:  HDOCT demonstrating a focal disruption at the outer segment of the retina


Laser injuries to the eyes are increasingly more common. There are unsafe laser pointers (power output greater than 5mW) in the market bought online.1 The prognosis on recovery can be variable, and in some instances the patient is left with a permanent scotoma. The ABC’s catalyst program has a very informative video on this issue.


  1. Wyrsch et al. Letter to the Editors. N Engl J Med 2010; 363:1089-1091September 9, 2010 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMc1005818