FDA: Laser Toys: How to Keep Kids Safe


When not used properly, laser toys and laser pointers can damage a person’s eyes. The FDA has tips to keep you and those around you safe.

Laser Toys: How to Keep Kids Safe

When not used properly, laser toys and laser pointers can damage a person’s eyes. The FDA has tips to keep you and those around you safe.

Many kids (and parents) who have seen Luke Skywalker battle Darth Vader with a light saber think lasers are cool.

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 U.S. Food and Drug Administration is concerned about this potential danger to children and those around them and has been providing guidance to manufacturers on the safety of children’s toy laser products.

A beam shone directly into a person’s eye can instantly cause damage, especially if the laser is a powerful one. Moreover, eye injuries caused by laser light often do not cause immediate pain. Vision can deteriorate slowly and, therefore, may go unnoticed for days. Be aware, a beam hitting any metallic or reflective surfaces, such as shiny light switch face plates, mirrors and polished metal surfaces, will reflect off and still be hazardous to anyone in the room. Ultimately, the damage could be permanent.

Some examples of laser toys are:

  • lasers mounted on toy guns that can be used for “aiming ”
  • spinning tops that project laser beams while they spin
  • hand-held lasers used during play as “light sabers”
  • lasers intended for entertainment that create optical effects in an open room
  • laser cat toys

FDA Safety Standards for Lasers

A laser creates a powerful, targeted beam of electromagnetic radiation that is used in many products, from music players and printers to eye-surgery tools. The FDA regulates radiation-emitting electronic products, such as lasers (including children’s toy laser products) and sets radiation-safety standards that manufacturers must meet. 

Laser Toys

Toys with lasers are of particular interest to the FDA because children can be injured by these products. Because they are marketed as toys, parents and kids alike may believe they’re safe to use.

For toys to be considered minimal risk, the FDA recommends that the levels of radiation and light not exceed the limits for Class 1, the lowest level in regulated products as defined by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).

Lasers used for industrial and other purposes often need higher radiation levels for their intended functions. But these higher levels are not needed for children’s toys — and if they are present, they can be dangerous.

Laser Pointers Are Not Toys

Hand-held laser pointers — often used to help illustrate presentations — have increased in power over the years. While adults may buy a laser pointer for use in work, kids often play with them for amusement.

The fact that lasers can be dangerous may not be evident, particularly to the children who inappropriately use them as toys, or to the adults who supervise them.

Laser Safety Tips

The FDA recommends the following general safety tips for consumers.

  • Never aim or shine a laser directly at any person or animal.
  • Do not aim a laser at any vehicle or aircraft. Pointing a laser at an aircraft is a federal crime.
  • Look for an FDA-recommended IEC Class 1 label on children’s toy lasers. A label with the words “Class 1 Laser Product” indicates the product is of low risk.
  • If a laser toy breaks, discard it immediately. Dispose of it safely according to your local environmental guidelines.
  • Do not buy laser pointers for children or allow children to use them as toys.
  • Do not buy or use any laser that emits more than 5mW power, or that does not have the power printed on the labeling.
  • Report high-powered lasers (5+ mW) offered for sale to the FDA by submitting the Allegation of Regulatory Misconduct Form.
  • Immediately consult a health care professional if you or a child suspects, or experiences, any eye injury.

Source: https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/laser-toys-how-keep-kids-safe