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Laser pointers should be thrown away, say safety experts

eye with laser Image copyright Getty Images

Laser pointers can have "terrifying" consequences for children's eyesight and should be thrown away, suggest safety experts.

In the run-up to Christmas, Trading Standards officers are stressing such devices are not genuine toys.

Since 2012, at least 47 children have suffered permanent eye damage as a result of lasers being shone in their faces.

The government has promised to do more to stop such devices being imported.

At the moment it is illegal in the UK to sell lasers that produce more than 1 milliWatt of power.

However, many that are within the legal limit do not conform to EU safety standards, and some are more powerful than their label suggests.

"The biggest problem is that many of these products can be purchased via the internet and are sourced from businesses outside the EU," said Robert Chantry-Price, of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute.

"As a consequence, they may not have been tested for their safety."

Trading Standards said children were at greater risk of injuries than adults, as they tend not to blink or turn their eyes away if a laser is shone into their face.

Those who already own a laser are being told that throwing them away is the "safest thing to do".

Following an enquiry last year, the government has promised more support to stop high-powered lasers being imported.

It wants better labelling, and more public awareness of the dangers.

As a result Trading Standards has launched a new video and poster campaign to try and cut down on the number of injuries to children.

The law regarding those who use lasers to try and distract pilots, air traffic controllers or motorists was tightened earlier this year.

The Laser Misuse (Vehicles) Act provides for prison sentences of up to five years, and unlimited fines.

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