At-Home Safety: Avoid Fireworks-Related Eye Injuries this Fourth of July

While fireworks are one of the highlights of the Fourth of July holiday, a mistake can turn their beauty into permanent injury, eye damage or blindness.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, an estimated 9,000 people were rushed to emergency room for injuries related to fireworks accidents in 2006. Adults are not the only ones injured from these kinds of accidents – 1 out of every 3 people hurt was a child under 15. More boys than girls are injured.

Bottle rockets, roman candles and sparklers accounted for most of the burns, wounds and “shrapnel.” Most of the injuries occur to the hands, then eyes and finally the face. In many cases, permanent scarring occurred. Of those injuries, nearly 1,500 were eye-related in the same 1-month time frame.

“Fireworks can cause painful eye injuries such as corneal burns or corneal abrasions,” explained Gerami D Seitzman, M.D., an ophthalmologist at Sinai Hospital of Baltimore. “They can also cause blindness if an explosive particle were to travel into the eye and damage the delicate structures required for sight.”

The bottom line? To stay safe, let professionals set off the fireworks and watch the display from at least a quarter-mile away.

“However, if the worst happens and someone suffers an eye-related injury, do not attempt to remove a foreign body from the eye,” said Dr. Seitzman. “It is best to simply cover the eye with a shield or sunglasses and immediately take the person to the emergency room.”

TAGS: Archive Health
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