HATTIESBURG, Miss. - This is a press release from Hattiesburg Clinic.
December is Safe Toys and Celebrations Month, and one local ophthalmologist is encouraging shoppers to make eye safety a priority when purchasing toys this holiday season.
“Toy-related eye injuries are more common than most people realize, and the number of reported injuries has grown in recent years, particularly from toy guns,” said Jane E. Kersh, MD, a board-certified pediatric ophthalmologist at Hattiesburg Clinic Eye Physicians & Surgeons.
Research from Stanford University showed a 500 percent spike in eye trauma among children between 2010 and 2012 due to airsoft guns and pellet guns.
“Some of the most commonly reported of those injuries were scratches to the cornea and hyphema, which is a pooling of blood in the front of the eye,” said Dr. Kersh.
“But it’s important to note that more severe trauma is possible with injuries like these, such as retinal detachment and rupture of the eyeball – any of which can result in blindness.”
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported about 251,800 children under 12 were treated in U.S. emergency rooms in 2014 for toy-related injuries. Of those injuries, 44 percent affected the face and head, specifically the eyes.
Kersh says eye injuries are not limited to toys that shoot bullets.
“Foam dart guns, sling shots, bow and arrows and, in some cases, drones, can also be dangerous for children,” she said. She points out one trending toy feature that might fall under the radar for toy shoppers – lasers.
“With the reawakened popularity of lightsabers thanks to the new Star Wars films, a lot of parents should be cautious when their kids ask for their very own lightsaber. The highly concentrated light from any type of laser can be risky when used unsafely,” said Kersh.
The Food and Drug Administration, which regulates lasers, is particularly concerned by toys that have them because it’s children who are often injured by these products. Examples of laser toys include:
· Hand-held lasers used as lightsabers
· Toy guns with lasers for aiming
· Spinning tops that project laser beams as they spin
· Lasers that create optical effects in an open room
“Because injuries from lasers don’t typically hurt, damage can be subtle and slowly cause vision deterioration over time,” said Dr. Kersh.
The FDA has issued a guidance document on the safety of toy laser products. This, along with safety tips for laser use, can be found at www.fda.gov.
As for other toys that pose a danger to eye safety, Kersh recommends the following tips from The American Academy of Ophthalmology:
· Avoid purchasing toys with sharp, protruding or projectile parts like airsoft guns, BB guns and paintball guns. They can propel foreign objects into the eye’s sensitive tissue.
· For laser toys, look for labels that include a compliance statement with 21 CFR Subchapter J. This ensures the product meets the Code of Federal Regulations requirements for laser products, including power limitations.
· When giving sports equipment to children, provide them with the proper protective eyewear with polycarbonate lenses. They are shatterproof and less likely to damage the eye if broken.
· Check labels for age recommendations to select gifts that are suited for a child’s age and maturity. Also, keep toys that are made for older children away from younger children.
· Supervise children playing with potentially hazardous toys or games that could cause eye injury.
“Of course, we all want our children to enjoy this holiday season with the gifts they ask for, but we don’t have to risk their safety for it,” Kersh said. “Awareness when shopping is an important, proactive step to ensuring a safe holiday for your children. If your child sustains an eye injury from a toy, seek immediate medical care. However, follow-up evaluation and treatment should be sought from an ophthalmologist.”
Dr. Kersh is fellowship-trained and has more than 20 years of clinical experience in pediatric ophthalmology. At Hattiesburg Clinic Eye Physicians & Surgeons, she treats preschool-aged children and works with children who have special needs and those who can’t read.
To learn more about Dr. Kersh or Hattiesburg Clinic Eye Physicians & Surgeons, visit www.hattiesburgclinic.com/eye-physicians-surgeons.