Retinopathy from a green laser pointer: a clinicopathologic study

Arch Ophthalmol. 2005 May;123(5):629-33. doi: 10.1001/archopht.123.5.629.


Objective: To report retinopathy following exposure to light from a commercially available class 3A green laser pointer.

Methods: A 55-year-old woman with a ring melanoma was scheduled for enucleation. The eye (visual acuity 20/20) had a healthy-appearing macular retina. The retina was exposed to light from a commercially available class 3A green laser: 60 seconds to the fovea, 5 minutes to a site 5 degrees below the fovea, and 15 minutes to a site 5 degrees superior to the fovea. Color photographs were obtained before and after exposure. The eye was enucleated 20 days after exposure.

Results: Laser power measurements averaged less than 5 mW. Retinopathy was observed 24 hours after laser exposure. This was characterized by a yellowish discoloration at the level of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) in the subfoveal region and at the site superior to the macula where the retina received 15 minutes of laser exposure. Each site developed granular changes at the level of the RPE within 5 days of exposure. Histologic study showed RPE damage in the exposed subfoveal and parafoveal regions.

Conclusion: A class 3A green laser pointer caused visible retinopathy in the human eye with exposures as short as 60 seconds.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Ciliary Body / pathology
  • Ciliary Body / surgery
  • Eye Enucleation
  • Eye Injuries / etiology*
  • Eye Injuries / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lasers / adverse effects*
  • Melanoma / pathology
  • Melanoma / surgery
  • Middle Aged
  • Pigment Epithelium of Eye / ultrastructure
  • Retina / injuries*
  • Retina / ultrastructure
  • Retinal Diseases / etiology*
  • Retinal Diseases / pathology
  • Tomography, Optical Coherence
  • Uveal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Uveal Neoplasms / surgery
  • Visual Acuity