PURPOSE: Laser pointer devices have become increasingly available in recent years, and their misuse has caused a number of ocular injuries. Online distribution channels permit trade in devices which may not conform to international standards in terms of their output power and spectral content. We present a case study of ocular injury caused by one such device.
METHODS: The patient was examined approximately 9 months following laser exposure using full-field and multifocal electroretinography (ERG and MF-ERG), electrooculography (EOG), and optical coherence tomography (OCT), in addition to a full ophthalmological examination. MF-ERG, OCT, and the ophthalmological examination were repeated 7 months after the first examination. The output of the laser pointer was measured.
RESULTS: Despite severe focal damage to the central retina visible fundoscopically and with OCT, all electrophysiological examinations were quantitatively normal; however, qualitatively the central responses of the MF-ERG appeared slightly reduced. When the MF-ERG was repeated 7 months later, all findings were normal. The laser pointer was found to emit both visible and infrared radiation in dangerous amounts.
CONCLUSION: Loss of retinal function following laser pointer injury may not always be detectable using standard electrophysiological tests. Exposure to non-visible radiation should be considered as a possible aggravating factor when assessing cases of alleged laser pointer injury.