The old adage holds true, as proven recently by a 15-year-old boy in Switzerland who burned a hole in his retina playing with a handheld laser with an output of 150mW, 30 times the power limit imposed by the U.S. government. So, in this case, I guess it’s more accurate to say, “It’s all fun and games until someone lasers an eye.”
According to a letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the young man purchased the laser pointer “to use as a toy for popping balloons from a distance and burning holes into paper cards and his sister’s sneakers.” His plan ended up backfiring when he pointed the laser into a mirror, which shot the intense green beam of light into his eye. (Reminder, boys. Real life is not like Star Wars.)
Now let me preface the next part of the story by saying this: I constantly remind my daughter to tell me right away if anything bad happens, rather than try to hide it, because the earlier she tells me the more readily I can help her (or her clothes/her dolls/the carpet). According to the head of the retina unit at Lucerne Cantonal Hospital, “the boy noticed blurred vision immediately after the laser hit his eyes, but was afraid to tell his parents. Instead he waited two weeks, hoping his vision would clear up.” Ouch. I’m assuming the kid didn’t tell his parents because he didn’t want to get in trouble for having a “toy” strong enough to burn holes in his sister’s sneakers, but I wonder he would have fared better if he sought medical attention right away? “Doctors gave him an injection — directly into the eyeball — of ranibizumab,” which restored his vision a bit, however, there is permanent damage to the boy’s retina.
I can relate – when I was 12 I dropped a hot curling iron directly onto my eyeball. (Have I mentioned this before? Girls did anything to get fierce bangs in the 90′s!) I went to the hospital and the doctor squirted some kind of miracle gel in my eye and my vision was restored.
The moral of the story here: Be sure to tell your kids never to shine anything into anyone’s eyes!