Bulletin de la Société Belge d'Ophtalmologie vol:317 pages:11-16
Two patients who attended a dance festival with an audience-scanning laser show presented in our department with a decrease in visual acuity from a direct laser hit in one eye. Ophthalmoscopy showed a similarly sized retinochoroidal coagulation spot, which had led to a retinal hemorrhage in both patients. Because the organizers of the show concluded that the retinal injury was caused by powerful, handheld laser pointers in the crowd, we were interested in determining if these laser pointers could cause this kind of acute retinopathy.
A 44-year-old man with an extrafoveal, temporal choroidal melanoma was scheduled for enucleation. The eye (visual acuity 20/20) had a healthy-appearing macula. Prior to enucleation, the retina was exposed to eight different durations (0.5-64 seconds) of laser beam from a commercially available, handheld, class 3B green laser pointer (500 mW).
Histologic analysis was unable to identify any abnormalities in the choriocapillaris, the photoreceptors or the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE).
The use of powerful laser appliances (class 4 lasers) directed into the audience (audience-scanning laser show) can cause significant retinal injuries with lifelong visual consequences. It is unlikely that laser pointers, even those of class 3B, can cause these ocular injuries.