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Laser Blamed, Drugs Eyed

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MOSCOW, July 16, 2008 -- Moscow ophthalmologists are questioning Russian officials' determination that retina damage in young people at a techno music festival was due to improper use of a laser gun reportedly directed at the audience, and are now saying the real cause could be drugs.

Russian newspaper Kommersant reported Tuesday that the ophthalmologists are deliberating on the most probable causes that led to vision loss in some who attended the Aquamarine Techno Music Festival held in Russia’s Vladimir region July 6.

The paper reported Monday that more than 30 audience members at the festival may have permanently lost much of their vision after a laser used during the concert burned their retinas (See Revellers' Retinas Wrecked). One attendee told Kommersant that he “had a spot like when you look at the sun for a long time” after the lasers were used. Others reported damage to their cameras and video recorders.

Russian officials named the laser gun as the possible reason for the damge, which was shined into the audience several times in violation of safety rules.

While 30 people reportedly sought treatment for ocular problems, the newspaper said Tuesday that the number of patients was actually 12, five girls and seven boys, who all had hemorrhages around their retinas.

Because no retina burns were found, eye doctors told the newspaper that the real cause could be drug consumption, although that theory has yet to be proven.

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Jul 2008
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