Eye Injury and Blindness Are Risks of Laser Hair Removal

Brian Lett
By Brian Lett
9 Min Read

Eye injury and blindness are risks of laser hair removal treatment

Laser hair removal can reduce or completely eradicate unwanted body hair and may help address associated skin conditions such as folliculitis.

Treatment may result in blistering or crusting; however, these side effects are relatively rare. Furthermore, it may lighten or darken affected areas, typically impacting those with darker skin tones.

Eye Injury

Eye injuries can range from minor to severe and affect one or both eyes. These injuries can be caused by mechanical trauma (blunt or penetrating), chemical agents or radiation (ultraviolet and ionizing). Most eye injuries are preventable by wearing suitable safety goggles and taking some basic preventative steps.

Most eye injuries result from something poking, scratching or cutting the surface of your eye – this is known as corneal abrasion or scratched eye and its symptoms include pain, tearing and light sensitivity. Minor corneal abrasions often heal without medical assistance being needed; however, deeper injuries may require medical care and even surgery for treatment.

Other common eye injuries include having something trapped in your eye such as wood shavings, metal shavings or glass particles – an event which usually prompts blinking and watery eyes as normal responses; in severe cases you could also see flashes or floaters of light that interfere with vision.

An injury to the head or face that causes fractured bones around your eye socket is called a “hyphema.” When this happens, blood accumulates between your cornea and iris requiring immediate medical treatment as an emergency situation.

Laser treatments for hair removal and skin rejuvenation may cause injuries when they hit too hard on the eyes, or when patients fail to wear proper protection. A number of case reports of injuries caused by cosmetic lasers have been documented in literature; in most of them involving professionals failing to provide their patients with adequate eye shields, or asking them to remove it during procedures as they treated areas that were too close for coverage by said shield. Obscure metal ocular shields or wavelength-specific glasses are essential when receiving cosmetic laser treatment of facial areas surrounding eyebrows or eyes.


Laser treatments near the eyes can lead to serious side effects, from ocular burns to blindness. Blindness is more likely among those who have naturally dark complexions or take certain medications or have been exposed to sunlight; people suffering from autoimmune disorders, hormonal imbalances or skin cancer also face greater risks from laser treatment.

Cosmetic laser procedures that target the eye include hair removal, wrinkle reduction and the treatment of vascular or pigmented lesions. Most of these procedures use laser emitting wavelengths capable of penetrating to ocular tissues like cornea and crystalline lens tissue and cause injuries ranging from mild to severe, such as blistering, crusting, scarring and discoloration.

Some laser treatments require the use of a filtering device known as a corneal protection device to filter out wavelengths that would cause unsafe ocular penetration, known as corneal protection devices. If this filter is either missing or fails to function as intended, damage to retina may result.

Harris et al[6] reported on ten cases of laser ocular injury associated with cosmetic laser treatments; some victims experienced loss of vision within one hour and had black spots appear in their field of view within 24 hours; subsequent examination revealed vitreous hemorrhage, epiretinal hemorrhage, and macular hole.

Laser hair removal procedures typically carry less risk for those visiting a qualified dermatologist for treatment. A pair of goggles will be provided during the procedure to protect surrounding eyes during laser hair removal by an accredited professional who has received training on using the equipment properly, while licensed physician will recognize any signs of eye injury and refer them directly to an ophthalmologist for evaluation and treatment if needed.

Loss of Sight

Lasers utilize light energy to damage tissue. This energy is absorbed by chromophores present in the tissue and converted to heat; such chromophores can be found in pigment, hemoglobin and water found within skin, hair follicles and other parts of the body. Specific wavelengths of light may prove more effective for certain treatments; using incorrect wavelengths of laser could result in injury to or blindness of one eye.

Laser eye injuries occur most commonly when retina, iris and cornea damage occur resulting in permanent loss of vision. Such incidents often stem from either incorrect wavelength settings used during laser treatments; inadequate protection; or removal of protective shields to reach areas that cannot be reached over them.

Eye injuries may also result from the vaporizing effect of some lasers used for hair and vascular treatments, specifically carbon dioxide (CO2) lasers that tighten and treat some vascular lesions. CO2 lasers have short wavelengths with high power densities which cause rapid thermal damage as well as coagulative necrosis of surrounding tissues resulting in rapid thermal damage and necrosis of surrounding tissues.

Ocular damage also occurs when using a YAG laser for hair and tattoo removal, pigment reduction or vascular lesions. When applied directly to the eye, its long-pulsed or Q-switched 1,064nm laser may absorb melanin pigment and cause permanent injury when applied directly; this often leads to central visual acuity loss as well as subretinal neovascularization[13]

Proper training on the safe use of lasers and light for cosmetic treatments is critical in order to prevent serious eye and soft tissue injuries, including laser and light radiation-related incidents, tissue-light interactions, as well as proper selection and placement of eye protection for various procedures performed by personnel. Furthermore, being aware of common signs and symptoms of an injury and providing first aid when necessary are key elements.


As with any procedure using lasers, there is always the risk of disfigurement. This may occur if your practitioner doesn’t abide by rigorous safety protocols and/or the laser settings are improperly chosen; or if skin care after each laser session is neglected.

Laser hair removal often causes discomfort during the procedure. While pain levels vary from person to person and depending on where the laser is applied, some find the pain unbearable while others find it bearable. To decrease discomfort during laser treatments, The Mayo Clinic suggests taking anti-inflammatory drugs like Ibuprofen prior to treatment sessions in order to minimize discomfort levels.

One less frequent side effect of laser treatments is bruising or swelling, usually caused by direct tissue contact from the laser beam instead of just superficial skin contact, lasting from several days up to several weeks in its course. Others experience crusting, blistering or scarring post treatment which can be reduced by following your clinic’s post treatment care instructions.

Laser hair removal may cause hypo- or hyperpigmentation as the melanin in skin and hair absorbs different levels of light during laser treatment, causing hypopigmentation or hyperpigmentation in some instances.

As long as appropriate eye protection is worn, this risk does not pose a major concern. It is especially crucial that patients wear shields when having laser procedures done on the periorbital region; there have been multiple reports of permanent ocular injuries from cosmetic laser procedures; in 62% of these instances either incorrect use was being implemented by staff, or patients were asked to remove shields in order to treat areas that couldn’t be reached through protection alone.

Share This Article