Every Fourth of July, the Pennsylvania Academy of Ophthalmology (PAO) reports that thousands of people are injured from consumer fireworks. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 9,000 fireworks-related injuries happen every year. Of these, nearly half are head-related injuries, with nearly 30 percent of the injuries to the eyes. One-fourth of firework eye injuries, result in permanent vision loss or blindness.
June is Fireworks Eye Safety Awareness Month, and PAO would like to remind consumers to leave fireworks to professionals. Kenneth Cheng, MD, PAO Immediate Past President and pediatric ophthalmologist said, if people attend a professional public fireworks display, rather than putting on a home display, there is a greater chance of avoiding potentially blinding injuries.
The PAO reports that children are the most common victims of firework accidents, with those 15 years old or younger accounting for half of all fireworks eye injuries in the United States. For children under the age of five, sparklers account for one-third of all fireworks injuries. Sparklers can burn at nearly 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to cause a third-degree burn.
Bottle rockets, Cheng said, are among the most serious injuries and direct trauma to the eye.
The rockets fly erratically, often injuring bystanders. Injuries from bottle rockets can include eyelid lacerations, corneal abrasions, traumatic cataract, retinal detachment, optic nerve damage, rupture of the eyeball, eye muscle damage and complete blindness.
For a safe and healthy Independence Day celebration, the PAO urges observance of the following tips:
Never let children play with fireworks of any type.
View fireworks from a safe distance: at least 500 feet away, or up to a quarter of a mile for best viewing.
Respect safety barriers that are set up to allow pyro-technicians to do their jobs safely.
Leave the lighting of fireworks to trained professionals.
Follow directions given by event ushers or public safety personnel.
If unexploded fireworks or firework remains are found, do not touch them. Immediately contact local fire or police departments.
Seek medical help immediately if anyone receives and eye injury from fireworks.
Find an Eye M.D. in many areas by visiting www.paeyemds.org. The Pennsylvania Academy of Ophthalmology has been working to preserve and protect vision and eye health for Pennsylvania’s citizens since 1943. With member physicians throughout the Commonwealth, the PAO strives to be the voice of ophthalmology; making efforts to ensure quality eye care on the legislative and regulatory fronts, while building and maintaining relationships with major insurance carriers within the state.