Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Laser Pointer Safety Communication

The FDA is reminding consumers about the risk of eye and skin injuries from exposure to products containing lasers. Although most toys with lasers are safe and comply with performance standards, some laser products such as hand-held laser pointers are being misused as toys.

Laser products operated in an unsafe and uncontrolled manner may cause injury to the user and/or others within range of the laser beam. This is a particular concern for lasers intended for entertainment purposes, especially when used by children as toys.

The FDA believes that many eye injuries from laser pointers go unreported. Nonetheless, the FDA is aware of laser pointer injuries involving military personnel, researchers, hobbyists and children. The FDA is aware of many child eye injuries caused when children play with laser pointers. Just two of many incidents FDA is aware of include:

  • A child’s eyes were damaged from reflected beams after directing a 150 mW laser pointer into a mirror.
  • A child is legally blind in both eyes after playing with his mother’s laser pointer which was purchased online.

Using a laser to illuminate an aircraft is a federal crime and a felony and those convicted face a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Many individuals have been convicted of shining either legal or overpowered lasers on an aircraft, recent examples include:

  • In 2014 a 26-year-old California man was sentenced to 14 years in prison for aiming a laser pointer at a police helicopter and a hospital emergency transport helicopter.
  • In 2015 a 52-year-old California man was sentenced to 21 months in prison for shining a powerful green laser at a sheriff’s helicopter.

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Last Updated: 2015-12-22

FDA Is Reminding Consumers for Laser Pointer Safety

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