Fireworks may seem like toys, but they can be extremely dangerous, injuring thousands of Americans each year – many of them children.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that injuries from fireworks resulted in nearly 10,000 visits to emergency departments in 2019. About 15 percent of those visits were for eye injuries.
“Eye injuries can range from cuts and bruises on the face and around the eyes to damaged corneas, and even severe injuries like a ruptured eyeball,” said Brad Schimke, OD, an optometrist with Trinity Health. “Some of these injuries can cause permanent eye damage and even blindness.”
The biggest culprits are bottle rockets, firecrackers, and Roman candles. But even sparklers aren’t harmless, according to Dr. Schimke. “They can burn at temperatures of 2,000 degrees or higher, and they happen to be the cause of the majority of firework injuries involving small children.”
The American Academy of Ophthalmology offers a few safety tips to prevent a fun-filled Independence Day from turning into tragedy:
- Never let young children play with fireworks of any type, even sparklers.
- Do not allow kids to light fireworks.
- Always have adult supervision.
- Watch from a safe distance.
- Never touch unexploded fireworks.
“The ‘light, and get away’ warning that’s printed on fireworks labels is there for a reason,” Dr. Schimke added. “Another safety measure is to wear safety glasses when lighting fireworks or using sparklers.” For more information about eye safety, visit the American Academy of Ophthalmology at aao.org/eyesmart.