Thousands of children worldwide play with Nerf guns. Doctors are now concerned about the potential for these guns to harm the eyes and lead to serious eye injuries. According to experts, the “bullets” or darts used by the guns can hit the eyes leading to bleeding internally within and around the eyes. This may damage vision leading to blurring of vision. Moorfields Eye Hospital Ophthalmologists wrote this in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) in its BMJ Case Reports section warning parents against providing their kids with toy guns with projectiles.
Foam bullet and gun toy. Image Credit: ukmng / Shutterstock
According to the write up by the authors, children as well as adults who played with these guns, need to wear protective eye gear and goggles while playing with these toys. The authors write that these darts or projectiles are as such harmless but the harm caused is by the speed at which they are travelling. They report several cases of both kids and adults who suffered from eye injuries ranging from a red eye, blurred vision to soreness, swelling in both the outer and inner layers of eyes etc. the injured include two adults (a 32 year old man, a 43 years old woman) and a child (an 11 year old boy). All three of the patients were given eyes drops and they recovered their vision completely. However each of these injuries carry a risk of complete loss of vision among the victims, experts warn. Authors write that Nerf gun injuries could lead to loss of vision in the long term too.
The authors of the paper looked at the non-branded, cheaper bullets that are available at the stores as an alternative to the original Nerf bullets. They noted that these cheaper bullets tend to be harder than the original ones that are made by the Nerf gun manufacturers Hasbro. These are often available online, they note. The heads of these fake darts were found to be harder and firmer than the original ones. However they did not know if the original one or the fake one had cause either of the three injuries they write.
Authors could conclude from the case series however that eye injuries can and do occur with the use of toy guns with projectiles or bullets. This means that protective eye gear is a must while playing with them. Also adults and kids are both at risk of losing their vision to this toy and adequate care must be taken. Safe age limits for these toys is also a recommendation from the experts.
According to a statement from Hasbro that makes these Nerf guns, they take product safety of their toys seriously and years of research and feedback have gone into making them safer and fun. They added that their products meet the global standards and regulations and that their darts are made up of foam. When used as directed they are safe. Aiming the darts at another person’s face or eyes is not desirable and not to be done, the spokesperson said. At present the toy guns are meant for kids aged eight and older.