We don’t want to put a damper on the holidays, but accidental injuries do occur between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Driving, cooking, or even putting up decorations can be a source for trauma—especially involving the eyes. And, particularly for kids: According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, around 1 in 10 eye injuries are caused by toys.
If you’ve grown up watching A Christmas Story, you might think that BB guns or other items that could “shoot your eye out” are the main culprits. So, you might be surprised to learn that less threatening toys can also injure the eyes.
“One of the biggest causes I’ve seen for children’s eye injuries are Nerf guns,” says Hattiesburg Eye Clinic’s Scott Paladichuk, OD, who specializes in pediatric eye care. “That may sound odd given it’s usually shooting a foam dart, but the blunt force they generate can damage an eye if it makes impact.”
Dr. Paladichuk also notes high injury rates from items like fishing poles, toy wands or light sabers, or even “stocking stuffers” like pencils or crayons. And similar to the aforementioned foam dart gun, a seemingly innocuous water balloon or water gun can cause eye damage.
While you are shopping this holiday season, be aware of the eye injury potential posed by toys with these characteristics.
Propelled items. Consider any toy that launches a projectile (including foam darts or water) as potentially hazardous. That risk increases the more forceful and farther a projectile can be propelled.
Sharp points. Even items like plastic toy swords, knives or guns can be problematic. That’s especially true if they’re in the hands of youngsters who don’t realize their potential for injury.
Chemical additives. The good thing about silly string is that it’s usually used up in short order. The bad thing: It and items like it may contain chemicals that can irritate the eyes or even cause infection.
Intense light. Laser pointers and similar bright light items are never a good toy. Although it may seem like great fun playing laser tag with one, intense light directed to the eyes can cause permanent damage.
All in all, a child’s age and maturity level should determine whether or not a particular toy is appropriate for them. Even then, appropriate safety glasses or goggles should be included with some items.
And although we’ve majored on kids, adults are also at risk for holiday eye injury—particularly on New Year’s Eve. If you’re thinking fireworks, you’re right: careless disregard of standard safety measures while shooting fireworks can be catastrophic for someone’s eyes.
But you might also find yourself engaged in another eye hazard activity—opening a celebratory champagne bottle. “You may not realize it, but a champagne cork can travel at a rate of 50 miles an hour,” says Dr. Paladichuk. “An impact to the eye at that speed is obviously damaging.”
To lessen that potentiality, thoroughly chill the bottle beforehand to reduce its internal pressure. Without shaking it, point the bottle at a 45° degree angle away from other people. Holding a cloth over the cork, press and twist—if you’ve done it right, you should hear a gentle puff rather than a loud pop.
The holidays are all about family and fun. Following these prudent safety measures can help prevent an eye injury from ruining the party.
Visit us at www.HattiesburgEyeClinic.com for more information about your family’s vision care. To learn more about how Hattiesburg Eye Clinic can improve your vision health, call 601-268-5910 (or toll-free 800-624-8254) or schedule a consultation with us online.