Pupils warned against playing with laser lights

2015-05-07 06:00

THE Department of Education in KwaZulu- Natal­ has warned that it will not hesitate to to take action against pupils who bring laser lights and play with them at the provincial schools.

The stance follows that of their counterparts in Gauteng who had warned pupils found playing with laser lights on school premises that they face expulsion.

“We cannot talk much about the issue since we have not received any complaints.

“However, our duty is to protect schools and there is nothing we cannot do to prevent such incidents,” said KZN Education spokesperson Sihle Mlotshwa.

Gauteng Department of Education spokesperson Phumla Sekhonyane­ old Health24: “In a case where laser lights are used at the school, it can be considered a harmful weapon that can cause serious eyesight injury.

“Therefore, any pupil who brings such to school must then be charged with serious misconduct, which may lead to expulsion.”

This cames after at least two children had suffered permanent eye damage from lasers.

In one case, an 11-year-old boy’s eye was permanently damaged after­ looking into the light after one of his classmates was playing with it.

Sekhonyane said schools should take all measures to ensure­ the safety of pupils and pointed out the laser lights that are commonly used in the workplace and universities during presentations can cause serious eye damage.

“The public should be aware of the ­potential dangers of these lasers and should be strongly discouraged from deliberately shining them into the eyes, said Dr Robyn Rautenbach, consultant ­ophtha- lmologist at the Vitreo-retinal Unit at Tygerberg Academic Hospital and Stellenbosch University.

She explained how the eye is damaged when looking into the red beams.

“The eye focuses the laser light onto the retina, the light-sensitive nerve layer within the eye, that is responsible for the production of images which are then transmitted to the brain.

“This laser light is absorbed by the dark pigment in the retina, just like dark ­clothing absorbs heat from the sun, and radiates sufficient heat to burn and permanently damage the retina at that site,” she said.

Dr Rautenbach noted the vast majority of laser eye injuries are minor after brief exposures.

“These have minor effects on vision which are temporary in nature, with recovery to normal or near-normal vision again within days or weeks without any treatment.”

She said the injury is more serious­ if the retina is exposed to the laser light for a longer period of more than 15 seconds and if the injury results in damage at the person’s fixation point, representing their central vision.

There is no available treatment once the scar tissue has formed

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