By Dr. Roxanna Potter
The sights and sounds of a fireworks display are a traditional part of a Fourth of July celebration. Unfortunately, fireworks can also lead to another annual tradition – a trip to the emergency room. Over 7,000 Americans are treated annually for fireworks-related injuries, and approximately two thirds of those occur during the Fourth of July holiday period. Of those treated, almost 1,600 people suffer injuries involving their eyes.
Every year, as many as 400 Americans lose sight permanently in one or both eyes due to penetrating injuries from fireworks. Less severe injuries to the eyes include burns, lacerations, contusions (bruises) and foreign bodies trapped in the eye. I’d like to strongly encourage everyone to attend only authorized public fireworks displays conducted by licensed operators. At the very least, please remember to take safety precautions when handling fireworks, including using eye protection that meets standards for safety eyewear. Your eye doctor can recommend specific safety criteria that the protective glasses should meet.
Keep in mind these eye-opening facts about fireworks-related eye injuries:
- • Children under the age of 14 account for 45 percent of fireworks-related eye injuries.
- • Almost half of fireworks injuries happen to bystanders.
- • The fireworks that cause the most injuries are bottle rockets, firecrackers and sparklers.
Children in particular require strict supervision when using fireworks of any kind. They do not understand the possible risks and consequences of careless behavior. Eye injuries from fireworks are more common than one might think, so please take every effort this summer to protect yourself and your family from this preventable trauma. Eye injuries are very painful, difficult to reverse or heal, and can lead to severe and permanent vision loss. Let’s make this holiday a joyous celebration, not a traumatic experience by using caution when dealing with fireworks!