It’s all fun and games until someone pokes their eye! Now that we’re in the holiday season, we would like to remind everyone of the importance of safety when choosing toys. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that more than 250,000 toy-related injuries were treated in U.S. emergency rooms in 2017. Almost half of those occurred to the head and most of them in children. While many toy-related eye injuries heal with time, some cause permanent loss of vision or even complete loss of the eye.
When choosing toys for children to play with, please follow these important tips:
- Avoid projectile toys such as air guns, BB guns, and other toys that shoot projectiles. Although the projectiles may be soft, the eye is very soft as well. It is easily damaged if hit with a fast moving object. It’s best to avoid these toys altogether, but if your child does play with a toy like this then he or she and anyone in the vicinity should wear full safety goggles.
- Beware toys with sharp or protruding parts. If thrown, or if someone falls onto a sharp or protruding object, the damage to the eye can be devastating.
- Never play with laser pointers. While seemingly harmless, high-powered laser beams can cause significant damage to the retina (the light sensitive tissue lining the back of the eye). Therefore, children should avoid laser pointers altogether and those who do use a laser pointer must take precaution never to point it at someone.
- Wear eye protection during sports. Proper eye protection is an important part of sports equipment. Check with your eye doctor about which eye gear is best for your children depending on the sports that they play.
- Follow age recommendations on toy labels. When choosing toys, make sure that at a minimum you follow the manufacturer’s age recommendations. However, even then use extra caution and consider other toys if the one you are looking at is potentially dangerous.
- Evaluate every toy. Besides the recommendations above, examine each and every toy. Check if there is any potential for injury when using it. If so, consider another toy.
- Adult supervision is required. Adults should always supervise when children are playing. It’s important to make sure they are only playing with appropriate toys and using them in a proper manner.
- Seek care for eye injuries. If you or someone you know experiences an eye injury, be very cautious not to rub, touch, or apply pressure to the eye. If there is a foreign object, do not try to remove it. Do not place any medications in the eye either. Instead, as soon as the injury occurs seek immediate medical attention from an eye specialist, such as at the Southwest Eye Institute. If unable to see an eye doctor, then go to the nearest emergency room. For more information on eye injuries, visit the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
The Southwest Eye Institute has set up its Emergency Eye Center to help evaluate and treat urgent eye issues. Many times, the patient can skip the emergency room and go straight to the Southwest Eye Institute, which is great because most emergency rooms are not equipped to diagnose or treat most eye problems. If you have a minor injury or eye problem, call the Southwest Eye Institute at (915) 267-2020. However, for severe eye trauma you should go to an emergency room.