Boy, 9, virtually blinded in both eyes after looking at laser pen for seconds

A little boy has been left virtually blinded in both eyes and has a ‘black hole’ through one after looking at a laser pen for just ‘two seconds’.

Mum-of-four Emma Carson, 39, was stunned when eye scans revealed son Archie Mapson, nine, had suffered instant damage like a ‘bullet had gone through his eye’ from the green laser in the pen.

Archie can no longer read, see the faces of friends and family, play sports or cross the road unaccompanied due to the large black spots that cover most of his vision.

The laser pen caused so much damage that Archie is now visually impaired with macular scarring and retinal damage in both eyes – and doctors think the injuries are so severe that they may be irreversible.

Emma claims she bought her son the laser pen in a UK toy shop and repeatedly warned him not to look directly at the laser – but little Archie had curiously taken a peak while playing with his cat last month.

Emma is furious that a laser pen could dramatically impair her son’s vision and claims they are still available to be bought in the same UK toy shop.

Emma, from Leigh-on-Sea in Essex, said: “I never, ever, ever thought that something you can buy in a toy shop would be that dangerous. And they’re still selling them as children’s toys.

“I thought it might be the same as if you look at a light bulb for too long and it leaves funny spots on your eyes for a few moments.

“On the scan it literally looks like a bullet has gone through his eye. You can see a black hole all the way through his eye – a clear hole.

“He’s got a burn mark in both eyes and the reduction in eyesight is the same. But in his right eye, which is obviously where he started looking at it, the damage is worse.

“Archie did know not to look at the laser. I told him ‘don’t shine it in your eyes’, but I think he just got curious and wanted to look at the light.

“But the doctor told me it wouldn’t have mattered if he had told me ten minutes after he’d done it. Laser burns are instant and they leave scar tissue behind as it does it.

“It makes me more upset than angry. I think it’s as bad as a gun, in a way, if it can do that sort of damage so quickly.

“As I’m seeking legal advice I’ve been advised to not name the toy shop I bought it from, but I do know you can still pick these laser toys up, often for as little as a pound. It’s just devastating.

“If we could save other children’s eyes in Archie’s name, then great. If we can get them banned, even better.”

Archie had owned the green laser pen, bought in a well-known toy shop in Basildon, Essex, for several years.

His mum had just changed the battery in the pen and reminded Archie to not look directly at the light before passing the laser pen back to him to play with on August 17.

It wasn’t until the next day that her son complained that he couldn’t see – but Emma just put it down to his allergies playing up and gave him an antihistamine.

When Archie told her he could see black spots and Emma realised her son couldn’t see road signs or his brothers playing the following week, she became concerned something more serious had happened.

It wasn’t until he was taken to see an optician on August 24 that Archie admitted he had looked directly at the laser – and an ophthalmologist confirmed the laser pen had caused instant damage.

Emma, a dog groomer, said: “It’s all very new [for us] and it’s all very new for him as well. He rubs his eyes a lot to try and clear them.

“It’s very tough as a parent. If they’ve got a broken leg you can fix it. If they’ve got anything wrong you can put a plaster on it. But I can’t do anything. That’s upsetting.

“When he started describing the black dots, I started testing to see if he could see things.

“I had to stop myself from thinking the worst because he’s quite a clumsy child and I thought maybe he’d banged his head and had a bleed behind his eyes.

“His vision wasn’t blurry. He wasn’t complaining it was blurry, he was complaining it was black spots.

“That’s what it is – all he will see is a big black dot. When he tries to focus it actually gets bigger because his eyes contract and the dots get bigger and block more of the vision.

“It is literally covering up half his eye. The nearest bits to his nose on both sides.”

The laser had burned through to the back of his right eye and scorched the retina on his left eye.

Emma has even noticed that her son’s eyes have changed colour from a dark green to a light green, which his doctors believe may be due to shock.

But thankfully the boy will not have to change schools – although he will need extra consideration from his teachers to get the support he needs.

Emma said: “Archie is a real inspiration because he’s taking it on the chin at the moment. He’s adapting and he’s still his happy normal self.

“But I can see sometimes it does bother him because he rubs his eyes and you can see him adapting to look out the corner of his eye.

“He used to love watching films, but he doesn’t watch telly or anything like that anymore.

“Simple things like crossing the road is a no-no. He has to go to crossings because if he looks left and right he’s only got half vision in both eyes and then he may miss [seeing] the car.

“It’s completely life-changing. I have to stand a foot away from him when I’m talking to him so that I know he can see my face. I know that if I stand any further away he can only see half of my face.

“That must be quite scary for a child. He hasn’t said so, but if it was me I would be quite scared to have someone that close to my face. He’s going to have to change everything he does.

“Long term we know he’s probably not going to have a driving licence because he can’t see, but he’s too young to understand that yet.

“He knows it because he heard the doctor say it but the implications of those two seconds of mistake, shall we say – he doesn’t understand the full long term consequences.

“He does know that his sight might not come back. We’ve been trying to work out what he can confidently see, what he can safely see, what he can see part of.

“We’re working out how far we have to be away from him for him to be able to see our faces. He’s a real accept-it-and-move-on sort of child.”

More than 150 incidents of eye injuries involving laser pointers have been reported since 2013, with the vast majority of these involving children.

Emma is considering taking legal action.

Emma said: “I want to campaign to get rid of the lights. That is my goal. I want to push it as hard and as far as I have to to get these banned and from being sold and used like that.

“In hindsight, I do blame myself. Thinking about it now, they don’t need toys like that. Children don’t need those kinds of toys. Cats don’t need those kinds of toys. Nobody needs them in their life.

“Knowing how dangerous they are now, I would love to go so far that they do actually get banned in the UK.”

Lasers are organised into eight different classes to rank their potential threat as adverse health risks, with a class one laser believed to be safe and with no possibility of eye damage.

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Public Health England advises that lasers in toys should be Class 1 or of such a low output that they do not need to be classified.

Toy safety expert Jerry Burnie said: “Toys are regulated to ensure any lasers used do not cause eye damage. Compliant toys should not do this due to the safety standards in the EU and Toy Safety Directive.

“So either this is not a compliant toy or potentially it is not a toy at all.”

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