An annual report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission shows that fireworks-related eye injuries have nearly doubled, from 700 in 2016 to 1,200 in 2017. Overall, fireworks caused nearly 13,000 injuries in 2017, up from 11,000 in 2016. What's behind the increase is unclear, but we do know how to prevent eye injuries. Ophthalmologists – physicians who specialize in medical and surgical eye care – treat thousands of patients who suffer a range of fireworks-related injuries, from cuts and bruises to damaged corneas, retinas and ruptured eyeballs. Most injuries are caused by legal fireworks parents buy for their children, such as sparklers, firecrackers, bottle rockets and Roman candles. To help reduce the number of potentially blinding fireworks accidents this holiday, the American Academy of Ophthalmology is sharing these tips for staying safe around fireworks.
- Keep a safe distance: A recent, five-year study showed that 65 percent of victims were bystanders. Stacy Young was 100 yards away when an illegal firework sent shrapnel into her skull. Ophthalmologists couldn't save her eye. It had to be removed.
- Don't pick up duds and misfires: Fireworks nearly cost an Ohio firefighter his sight. He took all the right precautions for his backyard Fourth of July fireworks celebration. But a split-second decision to inspect a "dud" was almost fatal.
- Supervise children closely: Sparklers seem like harmless fun for the kids, but they are responsible for about 1,400 eye injuries each year. Even those tiny poppers or snappers can pose dangers.
- Wear protective eyewear: Ophthalmologists recommend that every household have at least one pair of ANSI-approved protective eyewear. Stop by any hardware store and pick up some safety glasses for the entire family.
- Celebrate with the pros: The Fourth can be complete without using consumer fireworks. The Academy advises that the safest way to view fireworks is to watch a professional show.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission shows that an average of 280 people a day will go to the emergency room with fireworks-related injuries during the two weeks before and after July 4th. Don't be a part of these alarming statistics. Learn how to protect yourself and your children."
Dianna L. Seldomridge, M.D., clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology
If you experience a fireworks eye injury, ophthalmologists urge you to minimize the damage to the eye:
- Seek medical attention immediately
- Do not rub the eye. Rubbing may make the injury worse
- Do not attempt to rinse the eye
- Do not apply pressure to the eye
- Do not remove objects from the eye
- Do not apply ointments or take pain medications before seeking medical help
To help ensure people get the facts about fireworks, the Academy also created an animated public service announcement titled "Fireworks: The Blinding Truth." It encourages the public and media to view and share the PSA. Visit the Academy's EyeSmart® website for more information about fireworks eye safety.