We hear statistics all the time but it can be astounding to know that over one thousand people suffer each year from fireworks-related eye injuries in the nation.
Here are the top 5 things to know about fireworks and your eyes.
Fireworks can cause permanent vision loss
Did you know that fireworks can reach temperatures greater than 2000 °F? Emergency rooms across the nation see an increase in fireworks-related eye injuries especially around the fourth of July. Fireworks can cause significant injuries such as:
- Chemical and thermal burns to your eye and surrounding areas
- Damage to the surface of the eye such as corneal abrasions
- Retinal detachments
- Ruptured globes (breach of the wall of the eye)
- Contusions, lacerations and foreign bodies
Even sparklers can be dangerous
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 19% of all fireworks-related injuries are to the eyes, which include eye injuries from firecrackers, bottle rockets and even sparklers. The most alarming statistic according to the commission’s report is that 40% of such injuries occur in children under the age of 15. Sparklers cause most eye injuries in children under 5 years of age. So please leave the sparklers on the cake or in the hands of an adult.
Never buy fireworks from the store
Don’t forget that fireworks are explosives. Some states have banned fireworks all together and only allow use in designated places. Purchasing fireworks from the store can be dangerous if they are not guaranteed to be in good condition. Fireworks must be stored properly in cool and dry areas as they could fail and misfire if they are unsealed or damaged. Leave fireworks to trained and licensed individuals who can ensure that they are safely fired.
How to protect yourself
You do not have to handle fireworks to sustain injuries. According to reports from the U.S. Eye Injury Registry, bystanders are more likely to suffer injuries by fireworks than those using them. Always remain behind the designated lines at the fireworks shows. If you are using fireworks read the instructions carefully, ensure that the fireworks have been stored in the right conditions, never consume alcohol while operating fireworks and always wear protective eye gear such as goggles that wrap around your eyes.
What to do if you have sustained a firework eye injury
Leave the fireworks and the medical care to the professionals. American Academy of Ophthalmology has made the following recommendations:
- Go to the ER immediately so that you can receive medical care
- Do not wash your eye with water or attempt to clean it
- Do not touch, rub or apply pressure to your eye
- Do not use ointment on your eye or take any medications such as ibuprofen or aspirin
- If there is a foreign body in your eye do not attempt to remove it
- Significant injuries may require surgery so do not eat on your way to the hospital
As we celebrate this beautiful 4th of July enjoy the spectacular fireworks display safely!