What You Don’t Know About Fireworks Can Cost You Your Sight

 The numbers are clear: fireworks are dangerous and July 4th is an especially risky time for eye injuries. According to the most recent Consumer Product Safety Commission report, 15% of fireworks injuries were eye injuries. In the most severe cases, fireworks can rupture the globe of the eye, cause chemical and thermal burns, corneal abrasions and retinal detachment — all of which can cause permanent eye damage and vision loss. Most of the victims are children and bystanders located nowhere near the pyrotechnics. As Independence Day nears, the American Academy of Ophthalmology is working to dispel the myths that put people at risk of blindness.

The statistics don’t lie. Children and people not handling fireworks themselves are in as much danger as the people actually lighting fireworks.

“Most people just don’t see the harm in sparklers, spinners, firecrackers, and bottle rockets, and they learn too late the necessity of wearing eye protection,” said Dianna Seldomridge, M.D., clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “It’s best to leave fireworks to the professionals. But if you choose to celebrate with fireworks, wear safety goggles and take all the necessary precautions to keep your family safe.”

  • Myth #1: Consumer fireworks are harmless. Fireworks can cause blinding eye injuries such as chemical and thermal burns, corneal abrasions or retinal detachment. If you live in a state where consumer fireworks are legal and have plans to use them, wear eye protection.
  • Myth #2: Sparklers are made for kids and aren’t dangerous. Don’t let their small size fool you; sparklers burn at more than 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s hot enough to melt certain metals.
  • Myth #3: Duds are harmless. Malfunctioning fireworks should be handled with caution. Do not try to relight faulty fireworks. Instead, soak it in water and throw the dud away.
  • Myth #4: Only those handling the fireworks are at risk. The majority of firework-related eye injuries happen to bystanders. Watch fireworks from at least 500 feet away and make sure everyone is wearing eye protection.

If an eye injury does occur, seek medical attention right away.

For more tips and information, visit www.eyesmart.org.

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