In the U.S., more than 9,000 fireworks injuries happen each year, with roughly 1 in 8 fireworks injuries harming the eyes. With Labor Day weekend celebrations approaching, Dr. Ronald C. Gentile, Professor of Ophthalmology and the Chief of Ocular Trauma Service at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai, wants to remind people of some eye health and fireworks safety tips.
“Common fireworks and sparkler eye injuries include burns, lacerations, abrasions, retinal detachment, optic nerve damage and ruptured eyeball,” says Dr. Gentile. “And children are frequent victims of these injuries. As many as 30 percent of eye traumas caused by fireworks impact kids.”
To help protect your vision, Dr. Gentile recommends the following tips:
- Fireworks are not toys: Even though fireworks can be exhilarating and fun to watch, they should be treated as potentially dangerous due to their combustible and flammable properties. Children should be educated about their dangers and never play with fireworks.
- Leave fireworks to the experts: The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a professional fireworks event. Even though many states allow fireworks, use of consumer fireworks without a permit in New York State is illegal.
- Always wear protective eyewear: If allowed with proper permits, set-up a safety barrier around where the fireworks will be lit and make sure the adults handling fireworks, including all bystanders, wear protective eyewear.
- Seek medical attention immediately in case of a fireworks eye injury: Do not rub the eye or try to flush it out since this could cause further damage to the eye.
“The injured eye is very unforgiving, so speed, specialty care and new medical technologies are of the essence in treating ocular trauma,” said Dr. Gentile.
New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai offers specialized services for these types of injuries through its Eye Trauma Service open 24 hours, seven days a week. The Center is also home to the Eye Injury Registry of the State of New York and is a member of the United States Eye Injury Registry. Data from the registries are used to conduct analytical epidemiological research and for development of eye safety strategies and clinical trials.