HEALTHMedical

RC Flying Toys

Eye Health

By Dr S.S. Gill

Ipoh Echo’s EYE HEALTH series continues with Consultant Eye Surgeon Dr S.S. GILL talking to us about DANGERS OF REMOTE CONTROLLED FLYING TOYS.

Remote controlled (RC) flying toys, first-person view (FPV) aircrafts, quadcopters or drones are some of the terms used to describe these remote controlled flying craft. These are quite easily purchased in Malaysia and are found in many toy stores, supermarkets and even at small vendors. Rapidly falling prices, easy availability and their fast gaining popularity increasingly encourage families to have them as a recreational item.

While they may appear as perfect gifts for kids, teenagers and adults too during the upcoming Christmas season, they can be dangerous if not handled properly. In fact, many buy them without putting any thought to the fact that a high level of responsibility is demanded of all those who fly them.

Whether we realize it or not, it exposes everyone to dangers of eye and other injuries should they be flown without proper gear, skills and inappropriate locations. Quadcopters can fly up to 4000m, far away from actual sight of the “pilot” who is flying the drone although “flyers” are asked to ensure that they fly them in the “line of sight” where they are easily visible.

Injuries caused by flying quadcopters can be serious and may result in blinding injuries should they strike the eye. In July of this year, it was reported in the news that a 5-year-old boy had to undergo surgery for an injury as severe as a head fracture after being struck by an RC Plane in Baling. An investigation was then carried out by Police following that and the “flyer” or “ground pilot” was charged for causing grievous hurt. Injuries such as these often go unreported and are often known to only the doctors who treat such victims. The way things are moving, I will not be surprised that as it gains popularity, it will make its’ way into the major list of causes of preventable ocular injuries.

Increasing popularity of such drones has prompted the Malaysian DCA (Department of Civil Aviation) to start considering regulations in the use of such toys in the near future.

Some of the things that can happen when these drones are flown are as follows:

  • Ground “pilot” error in handling the RC plane.
  • Loss of connection between ground pilot and drone.
  • Failure of protective “RTH” or “Return to Home” mode and a crash occurs.
  • Runs out of battery and crash lands.
  • Motor failure of the drone causes crash landing.

The impact of crash landing a 1.3kg drone with four propellers spinning fast enough to push the drone at speeds of 40-50km per hour can result in disastrous consequences to a person or to property.

Seek proper training to handle such RC toys and think several times before buying them for kids. Take all precautions seriously – don’t become a statistic of eye injury.

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Dr S.S. Gill

Dr S.S. Gill is a Resident Consultant Ophthalmologist at Hospital Fatimah, Ipoh. For more information on Eye Health, call Gill Eye Specialist Centre at Hospital Fatimah 05 545 5582 or email: gilleyecentre@dr.com.

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