Non-Therapeutic Laser Retinal Injury

Patrick W. Commiskey, Curtis J. Heisel, Yannis M. Paulus


Background: As lasers have become an increasingly important component of commercial, industrial, military, and medical applications, reported incidents of non-therapeutic laser eye injuries have increased. The retina is particularly vulnerable due to the focusing power and optical transparency of the eye. Continued innovations in laser technology will likely mean that lasers will play an increasingly important and ubiquitous role throughout the world. Critical evaluation should thus be paid to ensure that non-therapeutic injuries are minimized, recognized, and treated appropriately.

Methods: A comprehensive literature review on the PubMed database was conducted to present case reports and case series representative of the variety of laser eye injuries in different injury circumstances, tissue types, and biological damage mechanisms.

Results: A general summary of non-therapeutic laser retina injuries is presented, including information about growth of the industry, increasingly accessible online markets, inconsistent international regulation, laser classifications, laser wavelengths, and laser power, mechanisms of tissue injury, and a demonstration of the variety of settings in which injury may occur. Finally, 68 cases found in the literature are summarized to illustrate the presentations and outcomes of these patients.

Conclusions: As non-therapeutic laser eye injuries increase in frequency, there is a greater need for public health, policy, diagnosis, and treatment of these types of injuries.

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