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Toy lasers come under scrutiny from FDA

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is issuing new safety recommendations to protect children playing with toy laser guns and lightsabers. 

“Many a kid who has seen Luke Skywalker battle Darth Vader with a lightsaber thinks lasers are cool,” the FDA writes in a blog post.

“What they may not know is this: When operated unsafely, or without certain controls, the highly-concentrated light from lasers — even those in toys — can be dangerous, causing serious eye injuries and even blindness. And not just to the person using a laser, but to anyone within range of the laser beam,” the agency adds.

To address these risks, the FDA issued new guidance Thursday in the Federal Register for the manufacturers of toy lasers. 

The recommendations are aimed at the strength of toy lasers. 

While the FDA already regulates laser products, this rule allows the agency to target lasers that are marketed toward children.

Lasers can cause someone’s eyesight to slowly deteriorate over time, the FDA notes. 

“Lasers with outputs above certain levels that are operated in an unsafe and uncontrolled manner may cause injury to the user and others within range of the laser beam,” the agency writes. "This is a particular concern for lasers intended for entertainment purposes, especially when intended to be used as toys by children.”