Survey of reported eye injuries from handheld laser devices in Canada

Read the full article through the Canadian Journal of Ophthalmology website: Full Article

Sami S. Qutob, Katya P. Feder, Michelle O’Brien, Leonora Marro, James P. McNamee, David S. Michaud



Unprotected exposure to handheld lasers can cause temporary or permanent vision loss depending on the laser classification.


To evaluate the occurrence of, and details associated with, reported eye injuries resulting from handheld lasers.


A 14-item questionnaire developed by Health Canada was distributed by the Canadian Ophthalmological Society and the Canadian Association of Optometrists to their respective members.


Questionnaire data were available from 909 respondents (263 ophthalmologists; 646 optometrists). Response rates were 23.1% and 12.7%, respectively. Validated data were available from 903 respondents, where 157 (17.4%) reported encountering at least 1 eye injury from a handheld laser. A total of 318 eye injuries were reported with an annual increase of 34.4% (95% CI 21.6%–48.7%, p < 0.0001) between 2013 and 2017. When respondents reported on only their most severe case, 77 (53.5%) reported vision loss that ranged from minor to severe, which persisted for more than 6 months in 42.9% of the cases. Another 59 (41.3%) noted the presence of retinal damage. The prevalence of eye injuries from handheld lasers was higher for males (82.5%) than females (14.0%), more frequent among those under the age of 50years, and occurred predominately as a result of exposure from another person (67.6%) versus self-induced (26.1%) (p < 0.0001).


Although this pilot study permits insight into the potential prevalence of injuries resulting from exposure to handheld laser devices in Canada, the results are not nationally representative. These findings support additional surveillance activities that may inform risk assessment and potential risk management strategies.