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Teen injured by laser pointer warns others about how dangerous they can be

Posted: 8:58 PM, Jun 26, 2018
Updated: 2018-06-27 11:55:32Z

INDIANAPOLIS -- An Indianapolis teen who suffered serious eye damage from a laser pointer when he was younger is sharing his story about how dangerous those little lasers can be.

Ross Vanderpool was just 12 years old when he and his friend were goofing off with a laser pointer. He damaged his eye with the laser.

“We watched Star Wars and they had laser guns so we really didn’t know how dangerous it was,” said Ross.

Laser pointers made in the United States have labeling that indicates how powerful they are, but the laser Ross had, came from Italy, where there are no laws about labeling.

Ophthalmologist Dr. Ramana Moorthy treated Ross’ injury five years ago when a green laser burned his eye. He says many people don’t understand how dangerous a laser can really be.

“Do not buy laser pointers as a gift to a child unless that child knows how potentially dangerous that pointer can be,” said Moorthy. “Red laser pointers are probably safer than green or blue. All laser pointers should have a specific label on them that says they are a Class B laser pointer OK for consumer use.”

Ross still has damage to his eye, but because he got treatment quickly much of it was able to be repaired.

In July, he’ll become a member of the Coast Guard thanks to that quick treatment and Moorthy.

Moorthy says the Indiana Academy of Ophthalmology and the Indiana State Medical Association are working on a resolution to deal with the laser pointer issue. They hope to release their findings by the end of September.

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