Dec 17, 2018 12:00 AM

Author: Moran Eye Center

“Careful or you’ll poke someone’s eye out!”

Chances are you heard that phrase as a kid—and chances are, you’ve found yourself shouting it to your own kids—with good reason.

The thrills of lightsabers, wands, bows, and swords are just too much to resist—especially when it comes to Christmas wish lists. Add flying projectiles from BB guns and the joys of slimeball launchers and the risk of facial and eye injuries is real.

Safe Toys Month

In this season of new toy-shopping, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) has declared “Safe Toys Month”—a time to consider safety before you buy. 

According to the Consumer Products and Safety Commission, there were over a quarter of a million toy-related injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms in 2017. Forty-four percent were to the head and face, the most commonly affected area of the body. Not surprisingly, almost a quarter of those injuries were to children younger than five.

How bad can it be?

When it comes to avoidable injuries, John A. Moran Eye Center ophthalmologist and oculoplastic surgeon Douglas P. Marx says, “We see everything from corneal abrasions (minor scratches to the front of the eye) to sight-threatening traumatic cataracts, bleeding inside the eye, corneal ulcers, and retinal detachments caused by the usual sharp objects and projectiles. Sometimes, they’re caused by toys you’d never even think of—like aerosol string.”

When resistance is futile

What if parents just can’t resist? What if you decide to go ahead and get that crossbow or sword because your child really, really wants it and you plan to “make sure” that they play safely?

“That is a real situation, and most parents have to deal with it,” says Marx. “In that case, I would encourage them to add some safety eyewear as a stocking stuffer. Look for kid-size, affordable options in stores or online and make sure they try it out.”

Along those lines, sports equipment is also a favorite gift. If that’s on the list, proper eye protection should also be part of the deal. Different sports present different risks and needs.

Here’s how to keep an eye on toy safety this holiday season

  • Avoid purchasing toys with sharp, protruding or projectile parts.
  • Make sure children have appropriate supervision when playing with potentially hazardous toys or games that could cause an eye injury.
  • Ensure that laser product labels include a statement that the device complies with 21 CFR (the Code of Federal Regulations) Subchapter J.
  • Along with sports equipment, give children the appropriate protective eyewear with polycarbonate lenses. Check with your ophthalmologist to learn about protective gear recommended for your child's sport.
  • Check labels for age recommendations and be sure to select gifts that are appropriate for a child's age and maturity.
  • Keep toys that are made for older children away from younger children.
  • If your child experiences an eye injury from a toy, seek immediate medical attention from an ophthalmologist – an eye medical doctor

Worst Toys” for possible eye injuries, 2018

As they do each year, World Against Toys Causing Harm, Inc. (W.A.T.C.H.) released its “10 Worst Toys” list for 2018. Among those cited for possible eye injuries:

  • Nerf Vortex VTX Praxis Blaster
  • Marvel Black Panther Slash Claw
  • Power Rangers Super Ninja Steel Superstar Blade

eye care prevention kids health

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