background. When operating hair removal lasers on the face or in the periorbital region, even with an ocular shield in place, patients often report seeing “flashing lights” each time the laser is fired. This phenomenon suggests stimulation of retinal photoreceptors and raises laser safety issues.
objective. To perform retinal electrophysiologic studies to evaluate the safety of hair removal lasers in the periorbital region.
methods. Five patients with severe trichiasis secondary to trachoma were studied. The 810 nm Dioderm laser (Cynosure, Inc., Chelmsford, MA) was used to treat the eyelash follicles on the lower eyelid of each patient. Cox III metal eye shields (Oculo-Plastik, Inc., Montreal, Canada) were placed behind the eyelids of both eyes during the laser procedure. Prior to irradiation, a comprehensive ophthalmic evaluation including pupillary and slit-lamp examination, funduscopy, and full-field electroretinograms (ERGs) was performed. A comprehensive ophthalmic evaluation including ERG testing was repeated 30 minutes and 3–6 months after completion of treatment. An independent blinded assessor evaluated the ERG studies. Subjective reports of laser light sensation, pain, and discomfort during and after the laser procedure were also assessed.
results. There was no detectable change in slit-lamp, pupillary, or funduscopic evaluations after periorbital laser irradiation. Similarly the pre- and posttreatment ERGs were unchanged. Three patients reported seeing flashing lights during the procedure.
conclusion. We found no ERG evidence of retinal damage after laser hair removal in the periorbital region, with Cox III-type ocular shields over the eyes, even when patients subjectively reported “flashing lights” during laser irradiation.