Fireworks can permanently cause eye damage and affect vision like chemical and thermal burns, corneal abrasions and retinal detachments, and in severe cases, rupture the globe of the eye.
“Kids and young people are the most at risk in my experience,” says Dr. Heidi Jarecki, Ophthalmologist at Chippewa Valley Eye Clinic. She recalls treating a child with a corneal burn from a sparkler that the child walked into. The child had permanent vision loss as a result.
Dr. Jarecki says another incident occurred with a young man who went up to see if a firework was a dud because it hadn’t gone off after being lit. It went off at that moment and struck him in the eye rupturing the vascular layer of the back of his eye (choroidal rupture), causing immediate and permanent vision loss.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that 35 percent of eye injuries caused by fireworks happen to children under the age of 15.
If you do purchase fireworks for home use, AAO recommends the following safety tips:
- Never let children play with fireworks of any type, even sparklers
- Adults handling fireworks should always wear protective eyewear that meets the parameters set by the American National Standards Institute and ensure that all bystanders are also wearing eye protection.
- Leave the lighting of professional-grade fireworks to trained pyro technicians
If an eye injury from fireworks does occur:
- Seek medical attention immediately
- Do not rub your eyes
- Do not rinse your eyes
- Do not apply pressure
- Do not remove any objects that are stuck in the eye
- -Do not apply ointments or take any blood-thinning pain medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen
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