Fireworks are beautiful and a great addition to large celebrations. Too often, however, people do not take proper precautions and suffer injuries when setting off or viewing the brilliant displays. July has been dedicated as Fireworks Safety Month to remind people that these explosive devices must be handled with safety in mind.
More than 9,000 injuries happen in the United States each year due to fireworks. As many as 6,300 of these injuries occur between June 18 and July 18, 20 percent of which are eye injuries. Another alarming statistic is that one in every six of the eye injuries results in permanent vision loss or blindness. Because injuries can be prevented, observing proper handling and safety rules are critical to protect vision.
All fireworks are dangerous if not properly handled. However, sparklers and bottle rockets that get out of control are among the worst. Most people do not realize that sparklers, which are often handled by children, burn approximately 1,000 degrees hotter than boiling water. A spark that lands in or on an eye can cause immediate and permanent damage. Bottle rockets can cause corneal abrasion, traumatic cataracts and optical nerve damage. The following safety tips should be observed by anyone handling or viewing these fireworks:
- — Always wear eye protection when handling or viewing fireworks
- — Do not allow young children to handle fireworks
- — If your children are old enough to hold sparklers on their own, ensure they are wearing eye protection
- — Keep viewers 500 feet away from where the fireworks are being set off
- — If you find fireworks that do not seem to have exploded, do not handle them
If an eye injury should occur, seek medical attention immediately. Due to the specialized nature of treatment, an ophthalmologist will usually be required to assess any damage and provide advanced care. While fireworks safety month is being promoted in July, Optos would like to remind you to always protect your vision. Be sure to have regular comprehensive eye exams using optomap® and follow through any treatments your eye health provider recommends.