Laser toys may not be safe for kids

There’s hardly a toy that’s cooler than one with a laser, but parents be warned: when operated unsafely or without certain controls, lasers can be a serious threat to children.

The Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning on lasers used for entertainment, including those on toys.

“The highly concentrated light from lasers – even those in toys – can be dangerous, causing serious eye injuries and even blindness. And not just to the person using a laser, but to anyone within range of the laser beam,” the FDA said in a statement.

Looking into a laser, even for just a second, usually doesn’t hurt, but vision can slowly deteriorate over time, the FDA warns. Permanent eye injuries may go unnoticed for days or weeks.

“A beam shone directly into a person’s eye can injure it in an instant, especially if the laser is a powerful one,” said Dan Hewett, health promotion officer at FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health.

Laser toys include:

  • Lasers mounted on toy guns that can be used for aiming.

  • Spinning tops that project laser beams while they spin.

  • Hand-held lasers used during play as “lightsabers.”

  • Lasers intended for entertainment that create optical effects in an open room.

Lasers create an electromagnetic beam of radiation that’s used in many common products. The FDA is concerned with lasers because it is often children who are injured by them.

"For toys to be considered minimal risk, we recommend that the levels of radiation and light not exceed the limits of Class 1, which is the lowest level in regulated products," Hewett said.

The FDA recommends people never aim or shine a laser directly at anyone, including animals, or aim a laser toward a reflective surface. It also recommends making sure the laser product complies with 21 CFR (the Code of Federal Regulations) Subchapter J, which should be found on the label.

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Liz Hayes
Liz loves spending time outdoors, working out, traveling, taking in the arts, reading and catching up on TV.
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