Most eyecare professionals know the dangers fireworks can pose to the eye. Yet many consumers remain unaware of this potential eye hazard. Firework-related injuries to the eye include contusions, lacerations and foreign bodies. These injuries may be so severe that permanent vision loss or blindness may occur. Prevent Blindness, the eye health and safety non-profit organization, and a member of the National Fire Protection Association’s “Alliance to Stop Consumer Fireworks,” supports the development and enforcement of bans on the importation, sale and use of all fireworks and sparklers, except those used in authorized public displays by competent licensed operators. However, the group also warns that even professional displays can be dangerous, due to the erratic or unpredictable nature of fireworks.
“Every year, thousands of people are injured due to accidents involving fireworks. These happen in a split second, often to bystanders, and some injuries are so severe that permanent damage occurs,” said Jeff Todd, president and CEO of Prevent Blindness. “We urge everyone to leave the fireworks to the experts and to always be vigilant, even during professional displays.”
In the event of an eye emergency, Prevent Blindness recommends:
• Seek help from a medical professional immediately.
• Do not rub the eye. Rubbing the eye may increase bleeding or make the injury worse.
• Do not attempt to rinse out the eye. This can be even more damaging than rubbing.
• Do not apply pressure to the eye itself. Holding or taping a foam cup or the bottom of a juice carton to the eye are just two tips. Protecting the eye from further contact with any item is the goal.
• Do not stop for medicine! Over-the-counter pain relievers will not do much to relieve pain. Aspirin, which should never be given to children, and ibuprofen can thin the blood, increasing bleeding. Take the injured person to the emergency room at once.
• Do not apply ointment. Ointment, which may not be sterile, makes the area around the eye slippery and harder for the doctor to examine.
For more information on the dangers of fireworks, call Prevent Blindness at (800) 331-2020, or visit preventblindness.org/prevent-