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Eye damage self-assessment tool could help laser attack victims

PUBLISHED: 13:01 13 April 2012 | UPDATED: 14:12 10 October 2012

A self-assessment tool developed by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will enable flight crew to determine the likelihood of having sustained eye damage following a laser attack.

A self-assessment tool developed by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will enable flight crew to determine the likelihood of having sustained eye damage following a laser attack.

The targeting of helicopters and aeroplanes – mainly passenger jets on final approach – has become a major problem for the aviation industry during recent years.

The Aviation Laser Exposure Self-Assessment (ALESA) card is designed to help pilots determine whether they have incurred a significant eye injury or should seek precautionary help from an eye specialist.

The ALESA was developed for the CAA’s medical department by Stephanie Waggel from George Washington University in the USA. The card uses a 10cm² grid that, when viewed from 30cm away, can be used to detect if a pilot’s vision has been affected by a laser.

It is free to download from the CAA’s website, and hard copy cards will also be available from the CAA.

Laser attacks on aircraft have been increasing rapidly since 2008. This is believed to be due to reductions in the cost of devices and their increasing availability via the Internet.

A law introduced by the UK Government in 2010 made it criminal offence to shine a laser at an aircraft in flight. Offenders can also be charged with ‘recklessly endangering an aircraft’, which carries a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment.

Please click here to download the ALESA, when printed the grid should measure 10 x 10cm.

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