SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) – Halloween is one week away, and it’s not just the masks and costumes that are scaring people. A popular toy on many Bay Area shelves has been a cause for concern for some local residents.

It looks harmless enough, a black cat toy that meows and flashes a bright blue light from its eyes with the press of button. Doctor Peter Karsant recently noticed his young son was playing with the toy, a gift he got from a relative.

“He was playing with it—shining it in his eyes, my eyes, on the wall,” Karsant said.

Something about the light in the cat’s eyes seemed oddly familiar to the dentist. He said that the light looked remarkably similar to the blue light that he uses at his office to cure or harden the composite material used to fix teeth.

Unlike the toy, though, Karsant said he uses extra precaution when shining the light on customers.

“We have a shield that protects our eyes from the light—and obviously there’s not protection from this,” he said.

As Karsant had predicted, the small cat toy turned a soft dab of dental composite rock hard.

UC Berkeley School of Optometry’s Austin Roorda tested the toy in his lab and concluded that if held close enough to the eye, the L.E.D. light could damage the retina.

“If it’s held right against the eye, it’s about four times the permissible exposure,” Roorda said.

However, he did say the toy’s lights are considered safe from a distance of two inches or more.

The toy’s distributor, Kikkerland, said they were unaware the light could be a problem and will contact the manufacturer in China and make sure a weaker light is used immediately.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS SF. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Comments (5)
  1. Rufio Kenneth Lumabas says:

    where can i get this?

  2. Bobbi Powers says:

    There are other versions of this kind of toy that I have seen in various places, usually sold as keychains. They are other animals like cows or pigs. I don’t know if the lights in the eyes are as bright as this cat’s eyes are but the eyes are blue on the other animals and light is bright enough to use as a small flashlight. What about those?

  3. Adam Hickenbotham says:

    I’ll bet the dentist paid $500 for his light. Now he knows that he should have bought it from China for $0.99.

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