‘Tis the season to be safe, especially when gift-giving over the holidays! Every year thousands of children suffer serious toy-related eye injuries, even blindness. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), approximately 1 in 10 children’s eye injuries that end in a visit to the emergency room are caused by toys. The good news is that most of these injuries are preventable.
The eyes are particularly vulnerable to injuries. Severe injuries can have lifelong effects. Many eye injuries in children are caused by BB, pellet, airsoft, and paintball guns. Plastic darts or arrows can scratch the eye, causing corneal abrasions. They can also puncture the eye, causing permanent damage to a child’s vision. Injuries from airsoft, BB, and paint guns can include retinal detachment, ruptured eyeball, and even vision loss.
No parent wants to end up with their child in the emergency room due to an injury caused by a gift. The Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that parents and loved ones consider safer alternatives and follow the toy safety tips below.
What to avoid
- Toys that shoot objects which can propel into the eye. This includes BB guns, slingshots, dart guns, arrows, and water balloon launchers.
- Drones with spinning rotors.
- Toys with high-powered lasers, which can cause permanent vision loss.
- Toys with sharp or dangerous edges such as swords, spikes, or wands.
- When giving sports equipment, always provide children with the appropriate protective eyewear.
- Choose age-appropriate gifts by reading the age recommendations on the label. Always read all warnings and instructions on the box.
- Consider if the toy is right for your child’s ability.
- Purchase toys that are sturdy and will not break into dangerous shards.
Fortunately, you can prevent most eye injuries by following the toy safety tips below.
Toy safety tips
- Inspect toys to ensure safe, sturdy construction.
- Explain how to use the toy safely and provide supervision while playing.
- Fix or throw away any broken or damaged toys.
- Store all toys away after play to avoid risks or falls.
- Keep toys for older children away from younger children.
- Ensure children wear the appropriate eye protection for sports.
If your child does experience a toy-related eye injury over the holidays, seek medical attention immediately.