The holidays are once again upon us: time for family gatherings, lots of food—and presents! And for kids (and maybe a few adults), the latter means the latest and greatest toys.
But before the “Great Day of Unwrapping,” it’s worth weighing your toy gift purchases carefully. It’s one of life’s sad facts, but some toys can pose a danger to eyes.
“Unfortunately, some toys do heighten the risk for eye injury,” says Dr. Scott Paladichuk, a Therapeutic Certified Optometrist with Hattiesburg Eye Clinic specializing in comprehensive eye care for the family including pediatrics.
Over his career, Dr. Paladichuk has seen his share of eye injuries caused by toys. “Perhaps the worst injury I’ve seen was a detached retina caused by a toy bow and arrow set.”
Dr. Paladichuk’s experience isn’t unique: According to Prevent Blindness America, there are roughly 11,000 toy-related eye injuries each year. But with a little caution and good buying sense, your child doesn’t have to be numbered in that grim statistic.
In recognition of December’s Safe Toys and Celebrations Month sponsored by the American Academy of Ophthalmologists, here are a few gift-giving guidelines Dr. Paladichuk recommends for holiday toys.
Be cautious with projectile-launching toys. Dr. Paladichuk advises caution with any toy that launches a projectile—including a surprising one. “Even toys that shoot foam darts have the potential to cause injury,” says Dr. Paladichuk. Be sure you also match “shooting” toys to the age and maturity of the child.
Avoid toys with sharp edges or rubber bands. According to Dr. Paladichuk, it’s better to nix toys with sharp edges, especially for younger children. And, be wary of toys with rubbery, bungy-like bands that could snap back and strike the eyes.
Only buy laser products that meet government standards. Pointers and similar laser products aren’t always the best holiday gifts for children: Laser light directed into the eyes can cause injury. But if you’re going to give this kind of gift to an older child, be sure the packaging indicates compliance with Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations (21 CFR).
Test toys before you wrap them. Dr. Paladichuk says that good purchasing decisions are only the first step in preventing toy-related eye injuries. “Parents should always test toys beforehand to become familiar with their operation. They should also provide sufficient adult supervision a particular toy might require.”
See an eye doctor ASAP if an injury occurs. Even when parents take the right precautions with holiday toys, an eye injury can still occur (although more rarely). If it does, Dr. Paladichuk advises seeking out a local eye doctor first, if at all possible, and promptly. “ER and immediate care doctors are great, but it’s best to see an eye doctor as soon as possible after an injury.”
The holiday season brings joy and a sense of wonderment to the little kid in all of us. Following these guidelines for giving eye-safe toys will help ensure an injury doesn’t ruin the moment.
For more information on children’s eye care services, visit our webpage. 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.