More specifically, the macula helps the human eye distinguish certain details such as facial traits or letters on paper when reading.
A nine-year-old boy in Greece permanently injured his left eye when he repeatedly gazed into a laser pointer's green beam, doctors say. Treating macular holes with surgery nearly always leads to the formation of cataracts, Sofia Androudi, a physician involved in the boy's treatment, explained to CNN.
The boy's parents brought him to an ophthalmology clinic for evaluation after he complained of decreased vision in his left eye.
Green lasers or blue lasers can be more damaging than red or orange ones, because of the frequency at which they omit light - around 550 nanometers - which is extremely powerful. However, in the boy's case, the macular hole was due to a laser burn which resulted in damage of the nerves in the eye that are responsible for absorbing light, Androudi said. Androudi, the ophthalmology professor, further said, "This means that even if the surgery would be successful, the boy would not be able to see". While a laser generates a very tight beam, a flashlight produces light that is diffuse.
A physical examination of the child's eyes showed that the retained a 20/20 vision in his right eye and a 20/100 vision in his left eye.
After 18 months of conservative treatment, the boy's vision has not improved. "That can leave scar tissue behind and can cause bleeding". They might even end up with a blind spot right in the middle of the eye.
Children are often reluctant to report eye injuries or symptoms, Androudi said, and she suspected that the patient had injured his eye at least a year before coming in for treatment.
"When you have something as powerful as a laser, it's so powerful that it is converted to heat like a burn".
The boy had been given the green laser pointer by his father.
Notably, despite of the Food and Drug Administration imposing a restriction on the sale of laser pointers having over 5 milliwatts power across the United States, the restriction do not seem to be have regulated or enforced and are still available for purchase, said Androudi. But they powerful laser can be found online.