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The following commentary was submitted by the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
The Fourth of July is drawing near and barbeque preparations are underway. Fireworks are a traditional part of Independence Day celebrations, but they can also be dangerous. Sadly, fireworks too often hurt children and teens. So, before the celebration begins, get your EyeSmart fireworks safety tips from the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Of the 9,000 fireworks-related injuries each year, 21 percent are eye injuries and more than half of the victims are young children or teenagers. For example:
- A 6-year-old child’s eye was severely injured after he lit an M-80 firework that he found in his home. He called 911 (mp3 audio) and underwent an immediate cornea transplant and lens replacement, and required several additional eye surgeries.
- A 12-year-old boy forgot to unwrap the fuse of a fountain firework, making the fuse too short. It exploded almost immediately and blew up in his face, seriously injuring his eye.
- After a man lit smoke bombs that created colored smoke, his 4-year-old son leaned in to get a closer look. Tar from the smoke bomb wick shot into the boy’s eye, causing a corneal abrasion.
“Many Americans get caught up in the excitement of the Fourth of July, and forget that fireworks are also dangerous explosives,” said Monica L. Monica, M.D., an ophthalmologist and clinical correspondent for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “The safest choice is to attend a professional fireworks display, and make it a point to supervise children at all times.”
Even sparklers are dangerous. Sparklers typically burn at 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit and cause 27 percent of all fireworks injuries, including third-degree burns. Bottle rockets cause some of the most serious eye injuries. Errant bottle rockets can injure bystanders and cause eyelid lacerations, corneal abrasions, retinal detachment, optic nerve damage, rupture of the eyeball, and complete blindness. One in every six fireworks-related eye injuries results in permanent vision loss or blindness. To prevent eye injuries, follow these EyeSmart tips:
- Never let children play with fireworks of any type.
- View fireworks from at least 500 feet away.
- Leave the lighting of fireworks to trained professionals.
- Respect safety barriers set up to allow pyrotechnicians to do their jobs safely.
- If you find unexploded fireworks, do not touch them. Immediately contact your local fire or police departments.