Eye safety is sometimes the last thing on people’s minds when buying toys for children. Although no one chooses gifts with the intent to cause any harm, some of the most popular children’s toys can pose threats to eye safety. With the holiday and gift giving season in our midst, here is a list of toys that can often pose a threat to eye safety that you may want to avoid:
1. Guns that shoot any type of projectile
This includes toy guns that shoot lightweight, cushy darts. These toy guns typically shoot up to 75 feet in distance and the darts move at speeds fast enough to cause serious eye injury. BB guns, paintball guns and darts can also be particularly hazardous.
2. Toy wands, swords, sabers or guns with bayonets
These, in general, are an invitation to eye injury. As the old saying goes, “you’ll get poked in the eye!” These toys can be particularly hazardous when used inappropriately with the potential to cause severe eye damage such as corneal abrasion, intraocular pressure, and even permanent vision loss.
3. Laser pointers and bright flashlights
Even though these aren’t technically toys, kids love to play “laser tag” or “flashlight tag”. The light sensitivity of these devices is sufficient enough to cause retinal damage and even permanent vision loss. This also includes high-powered LED flashlights because they can cause temporary blindness; putting your child at risk for a fall or other dangerous accidents.
Here’s a few steps you can follow at home to help set your own safety checks for your kids this holiday season:
1. Research your child’s “toy-age” group
Research the toys that interest your child and read reviews by other parents like yourself. Specifically look for the letters “ASTM” on the label. This indicates the toy conforms to certain national safety standards that generally won’t pose a threat to child safety. Educating yourself on the safety messages on the toy packaging is very important to determine it if it’s appropriate for your child.
2. Inspect and Supervise
Make sure your children have appropriate supervision while playing with toys. Even if they are age appropriate, they could still potentially cause eye injuries if they are left unsupervised. It’s also important to keep toys that are made for older children away from younger children.
3. Play smart
Of course we know that there are a series of toys that pose threats to the eyes. However, there are many toys that can help improve a child’s eye coordination and stimulate vision. Parents should look for toys with bright primary colors and contrasting patterns and prints to help promote the visual development in younger children. Beading projects, racetracks, and other toys that require visual tracking help in developing a strong hand-eye coordination. Even bean bag tossing and other backyard games with supervision all encourage play and help build a child’s coordination and visual skills.
To learn more about toy safety regulations, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission
website at www.cpsc.gov