Laser and ocular lesions

The word LASER comes from the acronym Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation which means in English: light amplified by the stimulated emission of radiation.

Laser light is nothing more than highly organized and coherent light with special properties. Theoretical knowledge of the operation and precautions to be taken in the handling of lasers in ophthalmology helps us to make proper use of this technology, to apply it properly and not to harm our patients.

According to the European classification of laser pointers, there are four categories with subgroups and only 1 and 2 and their subgroups (1, 1M, 2 and 2M) are safe and do not require protection. The eyelid reflex is sufficient to protect against their effects on the eye.

The other two categories, 3 and 4, need protection because they can cause vision impairment (burns in the most noble tissue, the retina) and skin burns depending on their power and exposure time.

It is important to note that not only lasers have risks for vision. Although we all know that light is energy, we are usually not sufficiently aware of them.

Looking directly at sunlight can also cause retinal injuries, because although it is not a laser, it is a very powerful light. At ICR we have had patients with light retinal lesions caused by falling asleep on the beach with their eyes ajar (the crystalline lens acts as a magnifying glass and condenses the light and energy from the sun and burns the retina), patients who have practiced “sun gazing” (dangerous practice of looking directly at the sun for a few minutes with the false belief that it increases energy levels and decreases appetite) or professionals with special risk jobs, such as those who perform welding processes, for working without the protective elements against harmful radiation that causes retinal damage.