An estimated 14 percent of fireworks-related injuries were to the eye.

Big Bang Theory: Fireworks best left to the pros, doctors of optometry say

Keep the bang in your July 4 holiday by handling fireworks safely, doctors of optometry say.

“Experience shows that fireworks are best left to professional fireworks handlers.”

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), eight fireworks-related deaths were reported in 2017. Five of the victims, ranging in age from 4 to 57, were linked to fatal injuries from reloadable aerial devices. Overall, there were an estimated 12,900 injuries (primarily burns) from fireworks treated in emergency rooms. Although hands and fingers were the most oft-injured (31 percent), an estimated 14 percent of the injuries (1,200) were to the eyes.

The No. 1 culprit for injuries: sparklers, which accounted for 14 percent of the estimated injuries during the month-long period around Independence Day. Contusions and lacerations accounted for most eye injuries, including foreign bodies lodged in the eye, the CPSC reported last week.

Enjoy your independence on the holiday but leave the fireworks to the pros, says Sue Lowe, O.D., chair of the AOA's Health Promotions Committee.

"Experience shows that fireworks are best left to professional fireworks handlers," Dr. Lowe says. "These injuries are preventable."

To help prevent eye injuries during fireworks season, the AOA recommends the following tips to help protect and preserve eyesight during the holiday:

  • Discuss fireworks safety with children and teens prior to the Fourth of July holiday.
  • Do not allow kids to handle fireworks, and never leave them unsupervised near fireworks.
  • Wear protective eyewear when lighting and handling fireworks of any kind.
  • Store fireworks, matches and lighters in a secure place where children won't find them.
  • Refrain from purchasing sparklers. Heating up to 2,000 degrees or hotter, sparklers are the No. 1 cause of firework injuries requiring trips to the emergency room.

Be aware of your surroundings and only light fireworks when family, friends and children are at a safe distance.

If an eye injury occurs, victims should immediately seek medical attention from their local doctor of optometry or the nearest emergency room, says Bradley Lane, O.D., who practices in West Virginia and also is a member of the AOA's Health Promotions Committee.

"They should refrain from rubbing their eyes or applying pressure," Dr. Lane adds. "Don't attempt to remove any objects that may be stuck in the eye, and avoid taking pain medications such as ibuprofen or aspirin that may thin the blood."

July 2, 2018

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