Eye doctors want limits on pen lasers

Dutch ophthalmologists warn about the danger of powerful laser pens. In the past two years they saw 17 cases (mostly children) of irreparable eye damage caused by laser irritation.

According to a publication by the ophthalmologists in the Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde, laser pens seem harmless, but they are becoming more powerful. Strong laser pens are sold especially abroad and on the internet. They have so much power that they can do permanent damage to eyes.

Ophthalmologists in Rotterdam, Maastricht and Nijmegen are sounding the alarm. "Laser pens are not toys. They are becoming dangerous weapons." says Jan Keunen, ophthalmologist of the Radboud UMC in Nijmegen. "17 cases out of 16 million inhabitants may not be much, but if the trend continues it is very worrisome: the damage is irreparable."

The use of laser pens with a very powerful and burning beam is prohibited in the Netherlands, but they manage to enter the country by people buying them over the internet or bringing back from holidays abroad.