As the Fourth of July holiday approaches and Americans make plans to celebrate the stars and stripes with a little red glare from celebratory rockets, the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the Nevada Academy of Ophthalmology urge the public to take important steps to prevent fireworks-related eye injuries. The academies ask parents and other adults to be especially cautious when children are in the presence of fireworks.
Of the more than 9,000 fireworks injuries that occur in the United States each year, approximately 45 percent are sustained by children age 15 and under. Eyes are among the most injured body parts,and one in six fireworks-related eye injuries results in permanent vision loss or blindness.
All fireworks are dangerous if not properly handled; however, sparklers cause the most injury and are particularly dangerous since many children handle them on their own. Sparklers typically burn at 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit. That temperature is nearly 1,000 degrees hotter than the boiling point of water, double the heat required to burn wood, hot enough to melt glass and cause third-degree burns to the skin.[V] Out-of-control bottle rockets also cause some of the most serious eye injuries, including corneal abrasions, traumatic cataract, retinal detachment, optic nerve damage and rupture of the eyeball – all of which can lead to potential blindness.
Both Academies advise the public that the best way to avoid potentially blinding injuries is to attend a professional public fireworks display instead of using consumer fireworks. For those who still decide to use legal consumer fireworks, the Academy recommends they follow these safety tips to prevent eye injuries:
Never handle fireworks without protective eyewear and ensure that all bystanders are also wearing eye protection.
Never let young children play with fireworks of any type. If older children are permitted to handle fireworks, ensure they are closely supervised by an adult and wear protective eyewear.
Clear the area of flammable materials and view fireworks from at least 500 feet away.
Leave the lighting of professional-grade fireworks to trained pyrotechnicians.
For those who attend professional fireworks displays and/or live in communities surrounding the shows:
Respect safety barriers at fireworks shows.
Do not touch unexploded display (show) fireworks; instead, immediately contact local fire or police departments to help.
“It’s vital that the public take seriously the dangers of using consumer fireworks. If mishandled, devastating injuries can occur - particularly to the eyes,” said Adam J. Rovit, M.D., president of the Nevada Academy of Ophthalmology. “We urge parents and adults to be on high alert about these risks, especially if children are in the presence of fireworks, and take these safety measures to reduce the risk of eye injury.”
The Academy and the Nevada Academy of Ophthalmology believe these tips can help to ensure safe Independence Day observances for everyone. If, however, a fireworks-related eye injury occurs, call 911 and seek medical help immediately. These injuries typically need advanced care by an ophthalmologist, a medical doctor who specializes in the diagnosis, medical and surgical treatment of eye diseases and conditions.
For more fireworks safety tips and additional information on how to maintain healthy vision, visit www.geteyesmart.org.
About the Nevada Academy of Ophthalmology The mission of the Nevada Academy of Ophthalmology is to promote and advance the science and art of medical eye care. The Nevada Academy of Ophthalmology’s members are dedicated to treating and preventing eye diseases for all patients. Learn more at Nevada Academy of Ophthalmology.