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Protect Your Child’s Eyes on the Fourth of July

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This Fourth of July, most people will celebrate with food, decorations and, of course, fireworks. Like most adults, you probably remember the thrill of your childhood Independence Day celebrations with fireworks and your excitement during the display.

But it is important to remember these are not toys to play with but devices that can cause devastating injuries. Most frequently those injuries are to the eyes. According to the U.S. Eye Injury Registry, as many as 400 Americans lose vision permanently in one or both eyes each year due to fireworks. A lot of those eye injuries involve a child. To help prevent eye injuries this Fourth of July, here are some tips from the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

If you attend a professional fireworks display or live in communities surrounding public fireworks shows, the Academy recommends that viewers:

  • Respect safety barriers at fireworks shows. View fireworks from at least 500 feet away.
  • Avoid touching unexploded display fireworks. Instead, immediately contact local fire or police departments for help.

If you decide to purchase consumer fireworks, the Academy recommends following these safety tips to prevent eye injuries:

  • Always have adult supervision and never let children play with fireworks of any type, even sparklers.
  • Adults should always wear protective eye wear if handling fireworks and ensure that all bystanders are also wearing eye protection. Protective eye wear can be easily purchased from most hardware stores.
  • Leave the lighting of professional-grade fireworks to trained pyro-technicians.

NewsletterFollowing these tips may help prevent injuries, but in case an eye injury does occur remember to:

  • 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.

Fireworks can be a beautiful visual display for parents and their children, but they can also be very dangerous. At your next Fourth of July event, take precautions to avoid serious eye injuries.

About Author

Dr. Jay N. Chapman is a board-certified ophthalmologist who has been practicing in Clark County for more than 20 years. His specialties include pediatric ophthalmology, as well as highly technical cataract and glaucoma procedures. He has been the past president of Vancouver Eye Care and served as the Ophthalmology Section Chair for Southwest Washington Medical Center (now PeaceHealth Medical Center).

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