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Dr. James
Dr. James, Board Certified Ophthalmologist
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Experience:  Eye Physician and Surgeon
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research respondents eyes with a so-called TM2 camera..Eye

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I'm a little concerned, but maybe overdoing it. I work in market research and use an infrared camera to track research respondents' eyes with a so-called TM2 camera and infrared lights made by Eye Tech Digital Systems. These are briefly detailed on

There are no respondent complaints, but when I personally calibrate the research system with my own eyes, thus briefly pointing the camera and lights toward me, a little while later I notice some light flashing in my right eye. While the technology supplier clearly states the technology is safe, and this supplier and perhaps 20-30 more such suppliers around the world are constantly pointing infrared cameras and lights at thousands of patients' and respondents' eyes, is there any possibility that I personally am more sensitive to this infrared stimulus and thus perhaps more subject to eye damage than others?

Thank you so much.

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Hello Jerry,

Thank you for your question. When you see these lights after looking at the infrared cameras, how long do they last? How is your vision now? Do you have any persistent blind spots?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
What I see is very subtle, and only out of the right eye -- to the far right of the visual field. Nothing in the left eye.

Regarding the right eye, there are no "lights,"'s just a brief, momentary flash which is not sharp. The brief, momentary flash is more like a quick blur, as if a small incandescent bulb were quickly turned on and off on my right side. It occurs perhaps once every 30-60 minutes, as far as I can tell. (I've seen the truly sharp flashes like lightning bolts before and reported them to my primary opthalmologist, who is out of the country right now. Retinal detachment was successfully treated by vitrectomy nine months ago, good recovery, no recurrence of symptoms, frequent follow-ups and examinations by the doctor, no detection of retinal tears, no doctor concerns as of end of July 2009.)

Vision in the right eye is good...ironically better than before the vitrectomy, for a variety of reasons, including the fact that an articifial lens was implanted at the time of the vitrectomy (due to cataracts). There have been no complications from the lens implantation, vision is good based on frequent check-ups, no infection, just some capsule clouding which may be corrected in another 6-8 months or so (this to avoid inflammation and potential complications from inflammation). Further, I cannot detect any diminution of vision shortly after the use of the infrared camera and lights.

I have no blind spots of any kind at all that I can detect, anywhere in the visual field. I don't detect any relationship between the use of the infrared camera and lights and blind spots.

I would add that the only medical concern that has arisen in the past year has been macular pucker and cystoid macular edema, first reported in April 2009 and treated in May 2009 with steroid injections and subsequent drops. The CME has subsided based on OCT and doctor examination and seems to be much better at this time -- there's less waviness in the vision and greater focus in the middle of the visual field.

In truth, this business of "a light incandescent bulb going on and off on the right side" is my brief report of an anomaly that seemed to coincide in time with the use of the infrared camera and lights. Other than this brief report, I am generally a patient who received successful treatment for retinal detachment, recovering fairly smoothly while treating the secondary issues due to macular pucker and CME, with few complaints. This anomaly is sort of an "intrusion," so to speak, on an otherwise normal path of recovery.

If it makes any difference, the infrared camera has to calibrate before starting with any respondent, including myself. This is roughly a 1-2 minute procedure in which you can see your face in the computer screen and you can see small crosshairs on each pupil while you are directed to focus on a series of targets as they move across the computer screen.   May not make any difference. Your call.

Also, I have just recently (in the past 4-5 days or so, roughly coinciding with the use of the infrared camera and lights) started to use a prescription soft contacts lens on the right eye for correction of minor farsightedness and astigmatism. (It's a toric lens.) No discomfort, seems to fit well, corrects the vision to 20/20 without much complication. Bear in mind that the right eye was seeing about 20/30 without correction by the lens. I'll let you be the judge of whether this is relevant.

Thanks so much, Dr. James.


Hello Jerry,

Thank you for the exhaustive history. It helps to get the complete story.

The short answer is: I don't think you need to worry.

Now, I'll go into a little more detail.


The diagram above (got from a google search), shows the infrared range to the right of the visible light. This mean that the wavelengths are longer and does not pack as much energy. In contrast, the UV or ultraviolet light has has more engery per unit. Therefore, you have UV protection in your sunglasses and sunblock.

So, the IR light should be OK.

I think the quick flashes of light you are seeing is likely due to your previous retinal issues. The retina can be stimulated when the remnants of your vitreous moves -- causing these flashes of light.

You should be aware of the warning signs of a retinal detachment. If you have an increase amount of floaters, sudden episode of flashes (light a lightening storm), or veil or curtain your peripheral vision, you should contact your ophthalmologist promplty for a re-evaluation.

If the flashes are stable and your doctor is aware of it with good recent exam, you should be OK.

Remember to press the accept button. It was a pleasure helping you with your question. Feel free to ask any addtional questions. Smile

Dr. James and other Eye Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Dr. James--

Thanks so much for your very kind help. I feel relieved, and I will make sure to stay in touch with my primary ophthalmologist, particularly when he comes back to the US!

Take care.

You're welcome.

Of note, most ophthlamologists will have another ophthalmologist cover them for emergencies while they are on vacation (especially out of the country). So, if you have a urgent need, you should contact his office and ask who the covering doctor is.