Laser pointer maculopathy

Am J Ophthalmol. 1999 Jun;127(6):728-9. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9394(99)00017-3.


Purpose: To report a case of macular damage from a laser pointer.

Method: Case report. A 19-year-old woman had an acute reduction of visual acuity in the right eye after deliberately staring into a commercial class 2 laser pointer for approximately 10 seconds.

Results: The patient's best-corrected visual acuity was RE: 20/40, and she had two small pericentral scotomata, as well as a hypopigmented ring-shaped lesion in the fovea. Within 8 weeks, her visual acuity improved to 20/20 and visual field returned to normal, but a subjective relative decrease in brightness of objects viewed by the right eye was apparent. Retinal pigment epithelial abnormality persisted.

Conclusions: Commercial laser pointers, commonly used for teaching and entertainment purposes, may cause notable macular damage if abused. Morphologically, this may manifest as foveal retinal pigment epithelial disturbance.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Fundus Oculi
  • Humans
  • Lasers / adverse effects*
  • Macula Lutea / injuries*
  • Macula Lutea / pathology
  • Retinal Diseases / etiology*
  • Retinal Diseases / pathology
  • Scotoma / etiology*
  • Scotoma / pathology
  • Teaching Materials
  • Visual Acuity