For most children, the holidays are an exciting time of year. It’s a season of getting new toys and playing games and having fun together. But if you’re not careful, such a time can also result in injuries, even to the eyes. December is the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s Safe Toys and Celebrations Month, so in the spirit of awareness, here’s what parents need to know about eye safety during the most wonderful time of the year.
Watch Out for Toy Hazards
Popular toys for children to receive during the holidays often include play weapons, such as swords, guns, plastic lightsabers, and bows and arrows. These types of toys often have blunt or sharp edges or fire projectiles that can do a surprising amount of harm if they hit someone in the eye. A toy that shoots pellets—like an airsoft or bb gun—can often propel its tiny ammunition a long way and with great speed, increasing the possibility of eye trauma.
Toys like these sometimes come with laser pointers, as well. High-powered lasers can be harmful to eye health if shone into someone’s eye. In fact, the FDA advises that parents not buy laser pointers and toys that have them for children and, if they do, that they make sure that children don’t point them at each other.
Sports equipment gifts can also lead to eye injury. Sports involving a fast moving ball, such as soccer, baseball, racquetball and tennis, can easily become hazardous. When providing equipment for your child to engage in these activities, impress the importance of safety on them and if need be, supervise them as they play.
How to Keep Your Child Safe
If your child does play with any such toys, make sure they take proper precautions with their eyes, such as wearing protective goggles or masks. Eye injuries from projectiles and blunt toys can range from mild corneal abrasion or scratching to severe retinal damage. In extreme cases, permanent vision loss can also result.
Keep in mind the age restrictions and manufacturer warnings on the toys you purchase for your child, as well. The packaging a toy comes in will usually be marked with age guidelines to indicate the level of risk that they present and maturity they require to be used. A toy that you would buy for a ten-year-old may not be appropriate for a five-year-old.
Make sure to do your research as well when considering what toys to buy. Read or watch reviews, and look at labels for safety standards and approvals from organizations like leading safety testing organization American Society for Testing and Materials. Also remember when introducing these toys into your child’s play to set practical boundaries and guidelines, as this will go a long way toward keeping your child’s eyes safe.
What to Do If Your Child’s Eyes Get Hurt
According to a study published by the United States’ Consumer Product Safety Commission in 2018, over 250 million toy-related injuries were reported in 2017. If your child’s eye gets injured as a result of playing with a toy, there are some practical first aid tips you can follow:
- Make sure the eye stays closed (if possible), covered and untouched. Rubbing an eye injury will only make it worse. Flushing the eye with eye drops may also help if the foreign object is only on the surface of the eye. If the injury is from a projectile, it is best not to force the eye open to examine or irrigate as further damage or infection could result.
- If the injury is penetrative, don’t try to remove the foreign object that did the damage. Instead, cover the eye with a cup or bandage and immediately take your child to the emergency room or an urgent care center.
- Contact your eye doctor or ophthalmologist immediately. Doctors will often have emergency numbers you can call to get in contact with them if you can’t schedule an immediate appointment.
We’re here to help your and your children’s eyes stay healthy this holiday season. Dr. Ganser is Lynchburg’s only pediatric ophthalmologist, so you can rest assured that your children’s eye health is in good hands. If you or your child suffers an eye injury or problem, or if you want to make a routine eye appointment, contact us today!