On Friday, the Food and Drug Administration published new draft guidance that could effectively put an end to high-powered lasers in the United States. It will not be formally approved until the 90-day comment period has passed. The move is likely in response to the growing threat of laser strikes against aircraft. Since early 2014, the FBI has offered a $10,000 reward to anyone who reports a laser strike to federal authorities, leading to an arrest.
Now may be the time to procure a retina-burning laser before the federal government cracks down on them once and for all. A new draft guidance has been issued by the FDA that would oppose the sale of high-power lasers to consumers. Under the proposed rules, the maximum power output would be capped at a mere five milliwatts. For comparison, well-known super-laser retailer Wicked Lasers sells handheld pointers that output 2 watts, or about 400 times the FDA’s draft limit. The new guidance comes as US law enforcement is becoming increasingly concerned about high-power lasers being turned on planes and helicopters in mid flight. The FBI even offers a $10,000 reward to anyone who reports such an incident leading to an arrest. A laser striking the windscreen of a plane can cause temporary blindness for the pilot, as well as possible retina damage in the case of more powerful lasers like those sold by Wicked Lasers.