Parents urged not to buy laser pens for Christmas – as 1 in 4 admit they would consider giving them as gifts to children


A worrying number of adults would consider buying a laser pen as a Christmas present for a child, a new survey from RoSPA has revealed.

One in four (24 per cent) of more than 2,000 people said they would consider the item as a present this Christmas – however laser pens, also known as laser pointers, have the capacity to do irreparable damage to eyesight.

Also concerning is the fact that one in five of those surveyed already have laser pens in the home.

Sheila Merrill, RoSPA’s public health adviser, said: “We’re urging parents not to buy laser pens for children this Christmas. We know of instances where children and young people have shone them into their eyes, or the eyes of another child, and caused life-long damage. We would also ask that anyone who currently has one in their home, and who does not need it, disposes of them as soon as possible.

“Laser pens have many legitimate uses, but they are not toys and should not be purchased as such. Please don’t give them to a child this Christmas – you will be risking their eyesight.”

Laser pens for sale should be no more powerful than 1 milliwatt (mW), with the threshold for toys using laser pointers being much stricter at 0.39mW, however many laser pens being sold do not conform to these safety standards – with some being found to be 40 to 80 times stronger than advertised on the product’s label.

A total of 70 per cent of those surveyed said they do not know what safety standards to look for when buying a laser pen.

Consultant ophthalmologist Dr Fahd Quhill, a member of The Royal College of Ophthalmologists, said: “I have seen too many children and young people whose eyes have been irrevocably damaged, needlessly, due to a laser pen.

“Many people do not realise the dangers associated with laser pens, but equally, those being sold may be much stronger than stated, so our best advice is not to buy them for children in the first place.”

The Office Product for Product Safety and Standards is working with RoSPA and a range of stakeholders to raise awareness on the dangers associated with the misuse of laser pens through #LoseTheLasers – a series of online messages – from Monday (December 3).

For more information on laser pens, see

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