By Kelly McLain, OD, Board Certified Optometric Physician
Fireworks are a fun way for many to celebrate the anniversary of our country’s Independence. However, we must be careful handling them as they can cause severe damage to the eye and/or vision. A few of these injuries are rupture of the globe of the eye, chemical and/or thermal burns, abrasion of the cornea or a retinal detachment. Most of these injuries are extremely painful and can cause permanent damage to the eye and vision.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) stated that in 2017 there were 12,900 injuries from fireworks that were treated in the emergency room. The eyes were injured in 14% of those treated in the emergency room. Children between the ages of 10-14 had the highest rate of injuries that were severe enough they needed to be treated in the emergency room. Most of the injuries were found to be from the misuse or malfunctions of the fireworks.
With the severity of injuries that can occur with the misuse of fireworks, especially to young children, it is important to follow these safety tips from the CPSC:
- Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
- Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper as this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they pose a danger to consumers.
- Always have an adult supervise firework activities. Parents don’t realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Some sparkles burn hot enough to melt metal.
- Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up immediately after lighting fireworks.
- Light fireworks one at a time and back up quickly.
- Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
- After fireworks complete their burning, douse the device with water to prevent a trash fire.
- Wear protective eyewear while lighting fireworks.
If you do sustain an eye injury while lighting fireworks this 4th of July, seek medical attention immediately. Do not rub, rinse or apply pressure to the eyes, do not apply pressure and do not attempt to remove anything that may be stuck in the eye. All of us at the Eye Specialists of Mid-Florida hope that you have a happy and SAFE 4th of July!