You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Green lasers 'catastrophic' for eyesight

AAP logoAAP 18/08/2016 Sarah Wiedersehn

Commercially bought laser pointers can cause catastrophic damage to the eye, warn Australian ophthalmologists.

Green lasers are the most dangerous, with one pointer found to be 127 times over the Australian safety limit, according to research by RMIT University in Melbourne.

The research has led to calls for the government to consider banning green lasers, which can be bought by anyone, including children, over the counter or online for less than $30.

Dr Kate Fox, a senior lecturer in RMIT's School of Engineering, said all the green laser pointers they tested were from 51 to 127 times over the 1 milliwatt government safety limit.

"At that upper level, the beam would cause catastrophic retinal damage."

The researchers also tested the safety of red lasers and they were found to be within safety limits.

"There can still be some risk, but our normal response to visible light is to blink and turn away and that's usually enough to avoid any permanent damage.

"But green lasers produce much more infrared radiation, which does not trigger our natural blink and aversion responses.

"Green lasers also produce a much more focused spot than red lasers, with a higher risk of damaging the retina."

The findings, presented at the IEEE Engineers in Medicine and Biology Society conference in Florida this week, raises important public safety questions, said Dr Fox.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon