FRANKFORT – The Fourth of July holiday is marked by cookouts, parades and patriotic fireworks displays. Although most families take precautions to protect themselves and their children against the potential dangers of fireworks, thousands still visit the emergency room every year – often with eye injuries.
“Celebrating the Fourth of July with fireworks is a great tradition, but safety needs to be the top priority,” said Dr. Jon Shrewsbury, an optometrist in Beaver Dam, Ky. “Children are especially vulnerable to injury from fireworks, particularly sparklers since they are handled at such close range.”
According to a study from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, approximately 9,600 people were treated for injuries due to fireworks in U.S. emergency rooms during 2011, and 17 percent of those injuries were to the eyes.
To help prevent eye injuries during firework season, the Kentucky Optometric Association recommends the following tips to help protect and preserve eyesight during the Fourth of July holiday:
· Discuss firework safety with children and teens prior to the Fourth of July holiday.
· Don’t allow children to handle fireworks, and never leave them unsupervised near fireworks.
· Wear protective eyewear when lighting and handling fireworks of any kind.
· Store fireworks, matches and lighters in a secure place where children won’t find them.
· Refrain from purchasing sparklers. Heating up to 2,000 degrees or hotter, sparklers are the No. 1 cause of fireworks injuries requiring trips to the emergency room.
· Be aware of your surroundings, and only light fireworks when family, friends and children are at a safe distance.
“If a firework-related eye injury does occur, always follow up with a full optometric eye exam,” Shrewsbury said. “An optometrist will help ensure that the injury heals correctly and will continue to monitor for future vision problems.”
To find a doctor of optometry in your area, visit www.kyeyes.org.