Don’t Let Your Eyes Deceive You: Lightsaber & Laser Dangers.
Just because you may not be able to see the damage toy lasers can do to your eyes, doesn’t mean they’re safe. Lasers are highly-concentrated light that can cause severe eye injuries or even blindness. A beam shone directly into a person’s eye can do damage in an instant – and the person may not even known it.
“Laser injuries usually don’t hurt, and vision can deteriorate slowly over time,” according to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA). Injuries can go unnoticed for days or weeks and may be permanent.
Laser pointers have come down in price over the years, leading some people to buy them as toys. But they’ve also become much more powerful (10 times or more), increasing the risk of eye damage. And toys themselves may use laser optics, including:
- Toy guns that use lasers for aiming
- Spinning tops that project lasers as they spin
- Hand-held laser toys used as lightsabers
- Lasers used for entertainment (e.g., disco lights, DJ lighting, laser light shows)
The FDA does regulate lasers and any classified as toys tend to be lower risk. Still, they should be used with caution. Here are some safety tips form the FDA:
- Laser pointers are not toys and should never be given to children.
- Never aim a laser directly at anyone, even a pet. Shining a laser into someone’s eye might be even more dangerous than looking directly at the sun.
- Never aim a laser at a car, plane or at anyone involved in an activity where distraction could lead to injury (like sports)
- Don’t point a laser at anything shiny—it could reflect off of it in an unintended direction.
- When buying laser toys for children, look for and IEC Class 1 label – the safest level of laser. It may also say “Class 1 Laser Product.”
- Don’t buy a laser that isn’t labeled with how much power it emits or that emits more than 5mW.
- Get to an emergency room or ophthalmologist immediately if you suspect a laser eye injury.