Mum’s plea for ban on laser imports
WHEN HER eight-year-old son Jonathan begged her to buy him a laser pen from a school fair, Angela Marshall felt little cause for concern.
But the mother of three was left in shock when, two days later, Jonathan came home complaining of “black shadows and blue spots” in his vision.
An immediate rush to Moorfields Eye Hospital in central London after the incident last month found that he had burnt his retina after shining the laser pen in his eye.
“Because the back of his eye is scarred, they don’t know whether his eye will heal,” Mrs Marshall explained.
“The worry is that, as he gets older, his eye will get weaker. He already wears glasses for poor eyesight.”
Mrs Marshall, a fundraiser for Jewish Care, has launched a national campaign to prevent the importation of laser pointers into the UK from Asia.
It is currently illegal to manufacture them here, but not import them; and although the country’s consumer safety regulations cover these products, in reality, they often arrive unchecked.
“These products are coming in from China, and the regulations are not being enforced,” Mrs Marshall said. “We want to see a total ban on them coming in and action being taken against people who sell them. What are laser pens for anyway? They don’t need to be here as a toy.”
Jonathan Marshall was injured by the toy pen
The family, members of Bushey United Synagogue, are working with Hertsmere MP Oliver Dowden to raise awareness of the dangers of laser toys.
A question was tabled in Parliament last week regarding the regulation of imports and, in March, officials from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills are due to discuss the issue.
Mr Dowden said: “There appears to be a worrying loophole which allows these dangerous pens to be imported, when it’s illegal to manufacture them here. I’ve already taken this up with the Business Secretary and will be pursuing it in Parliament.”
Mrs Marshall said: “For me, it is about ensuring that other children don’t go through this.
“At the moment, Jonathan seems lucky — he only sees shadows when he is tired. But imagine if it had been a baby whose eyes crossed through the beam.
“The problem is the lack of action being taken to highlight just how dangerous these toys are.”