Your Eyes Are A Gift, Protect Them During The Holidays
“I want an official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle!”
“No, you'll shoot your eye out.”
This line from “A Christmas Story” is one of the most memorable Christmas movie quotes ever. Funny in the movie, but the holiday season does present a real eye injury threat.
For those of who celebrate Christmas that risk begins before the actual day.
Some of the most frequent holiday-related eye injuries come from the Christmas tree itself.
Holiday eye safety begins with the acquisition of the tree. If you are cutting down your own tree please wear eye protection when doing the cutting, especially if you are going to be using a mechanical saw such as a chain saw or sawzall. You need to also be careful of your eyes when loading a tree on top of the car. It is easy to get poked in the eye when heaving the tree up over your head.
Once back at home take care to make sure no one else is standing close to the tree if you had it wrapped and now need to cut the netting off. The tree branches often spring out suddenly once the netting is released.
Other injuries occur in the mounting and decorating phase. Sharp needles, pointy lights and glass ornaments all pose significant eye injury risk. If you are spraying anything like artificial tree snow on the branches be sure to keep those chemicals out of your eyes.
Having now successfully trimmed the tree without injury, let’s move our holiday eye safety to the toys.
We want to spend the holiday happily exchanging gifts in front of a warm fire, drinking some eggnog, and snacking on cinnamon buns and not going to the emergency room with an injury.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission reported there were 254,200 toy-related emergency room visits in 2015, with 45% of those being injuries to the head and face - including the eyes.
In general, here are the recommendations from the American Academy of Ophthalmology in choosing eye-safe toys for gifts:
- “Avoid purchasing toys with sharp, protruding or projectile parts.
- “Make sure children have appropriate supervision when playing with potentially hazardous toys or games that could cause an eye injury.
- “Ensure that laser product labels include a statement that the device complies with 21 CFR (the Code of Federal Regulations) Subchapter J.
- “Along with sports equipment, give children the appropriate protective eyewear with polycarbonate lenses. Check with your eye doctor to learn about protective gear recommended for your child's sport.
- “Check labels for age recommendations and be sure to select gifts that are appropriate for a child's age and maturity.
- “Keep toys that are made for older children away from younger children.
- “If your child experiences an eye injury from a toy, seek immediate medical attention from an ophthalmologist – an eye medical doctor.”
More specifically there is a yearly list of the most dangerous toys of the season put out by the people at W.A.T.C.H. (world against toys causing harm).
Here are their 10 worst toy nominees for 2016, with three on the list that are specifically there for potential eye injury risk.
Here are other toys to avoid:
- Guns that shoot ANY type of projectile. This includes toy guns that shoot lightweight, cushy darts.
- Water balloon launchers and water guns. Water balloons fired from a launcher can easily hit the eye with enough force to cause a serious eye injury. Water guns that generate a forceful stream of water can also cause significant injury, especially when shot from close range.
- Aerosol string. If it hits the eye it can cause a painful irritation of the eye called chemical conjunctivitis.
- Toy fishing poles. It is easy to poke the eye of nearby children.
- Laser pointers and bright flashlights. The laser or other bright lights, if shined in the eyes for a long enough time, can cause permanent retinal damage.
There are plenty of great toys and games out there that pose much lower risk of injury so choose wisely, practice good Christmas eye safety and have a great holiday season.
Article contributed by Dr. Brian Wnorowski, M.D.
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