Experts stress caution as fireworks-related eye injuries increase


Photo: YinYang/iStockphoto

San Francisco – With the Fourth of July weekend approaching, the American Academy of Ophthalmology is reminding people about the dangers of handling fireworks.

Eye injuries caused by fireworks have more than doubled in recent years, according to data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission. About 1,300 people visited an emergency department because of a fireworks-related eye injury in 2014 – up from about 600 in 2011.

In response to the increase in injuries, AAO recently debunked four myths regarding consumer fireworks:

  • Small doesn’t equal safe. Commonly thought to be harmless because of their size, sparklers can reach temperatures of up to 2,000º F – hot enough to melt certain metals. Never allow a child to play with a sparkler.
  • A firework may look like a dud, but it can still explode.
  • Just because you’re not lighting or throwing it doesn’t mean you’re safe. An international study of fireworks-related eye injuries showed that half of those injured were bystanders.
  • The Fourth can be complete without using consumer fireworks. AAO advises taking in a professional fireworks show instead of putting on your own.

“Playing with consumer fireworks around these holidays have become such a beloved tradition that it is easy to forget the dangers they can pose, particularly to the eyes,” Philip R. Rizzuto, an ophthalmologist and clinical spokesperson for AAO, said in a press release. “We hope people will take the safest route to celebrating their independence by leaving fireworks to the professionals this year.”

AAO also has produced a brief public service announcement about the risks of fireworks.

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