Mumbai: This year, so far, ten people across Maharashtra have suffered blurred vision owing to exposure to intense illumination, including laser lights. However, no official complaints have been registered with the state health department. Of the total cases, five are from Nashik followed by two in Dhule, and one each in Pune, Thane and Mumbai.
Senior optometrists have pointed out the growing prevalence of such incidents, particularly among the youth “who casually gaze into laser beams”.
Cases for retinal injuries
The cases of retinal injuries due to sharp lights at pubs, weddings, concerts, and even laser shows have raised eyebrows of ophthalmologists. There is a need to implement regulations to prevent such incidents, said experts. They pointed out that untested and incorrectly classified laser devices can pose a risk of permanent retinal damage. These devices may emit light at an output often significantly higher than permitted limits. The laser light scans quickly across the eye or stays focused on it and which eye structure (cornea, lens or retina) absorbs the light are deciding factors regarding injury, they added.
“Retinal damage following exposure to laser beams at road shows, night clubs or discotheques are rare and not frequently reported in India. These two cases from Pune certainly call for more stringent regulations. I have seen cases of direct concentrated exposure where people playing with laser pointers have focused them on each other’s eyes,” said a senior ophthalmologist.
Sun-gazing during solar eclipse harmful
Eye surgeons said that the retinal damage can be caused by looking at the sun during a solar eclipse without protection, watching a welding arc and looking at the sun directly for a prolonged time. Exposure to strong flashlights used in functions can also cause damage to the eye. “Laser shows or bright lights at discotheques can cause eye irritation and fatigue,” said a surgeon.
Dr Shashi Kapoor, a former ophthalmologist at the government-run JJ Hospital, said they have treated patients who experienced retina damage from laser shows. “There is a need for awareness regarding the less-spoken issue and even the health department is not aware about it,” he said.
A note of caution:
-Refrain from looking at the sun during solar eclipse without protection
-Don't watch a welding arc or look at the sun directly for a prolonged time
-Avoid exposure to strong flashlights used in functions
-Laser light scans quickly across the eye or stays focused on it
-Damage to eyes depends on which part absorbs the light