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UK Government Laser Pointers Call for Evidence

24 August 2017

The government is issuing a Call for Evidence so that it can gather data and information on high powered laser pointers, and is interested in gathering evidence from the ophthalmic community on patients seen with retinal injury and consequent vision loss.

The government is concerned that, in recent years, there have been an increased number of reported incidents of the deliberate misuse of laser pointers with consequences which could have been fatal – examples include shining laser beams into the cockpits of aircraft as they take off and land and young children suffering permanent eye damage as the result of having beams from ‘toy’ pointers shone directly into their eyes; a UK survey of ophthalmologists reported 159 incidents of eye injuries since  2013, mainly affecting young children. The safety of consumers is a government priority.

As there is not one action that the government could take to  deal with this issue, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Home Office and the Department for Transport are working together to consider what action the government should take to tackle this problem. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – the government department responsible for product safety – is considering whether further measures, for example restrictions on advertising, greater awareness-raising, and introducing controls relating to the supply, ownership and/or use of laser pointers would help tackle the problem.  Before the government can decide what, if any, actions it could take it needs better evidence to fully understand what impact any measures might have on businesses, enforcement bodies and the general public.

Consultants Fahd Quhill and Simon Kelly have campaigned on this important issue and would ask colleagues to take a few moments to complete the following call for evidence about this important ocular public health matter at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/laser-pointers-call-for-evidence

Closing date for submission of evidence is 6 October 2017.