Written By: Shirley Dang
Fireworks cause almost 2,000 eye injuries every year, according to a new study published in JAMA Ophthalmology. More than half of these injuries happen in children.
Despite the statistics, most Americans still do not wear eye protection when handling fireworks. A national survey found that nearly three times more U.S. adults say they wear eye protection for home repair projects or cleaning than when using fireworks. And while only 11 percent of Americans would let kids age 5 to 10 light birthday candles, more than half said children should be allowed to use sparklers and other fireworks, which can cause severe injury and eye damage.
“These results seem to suggest that people view tub scrubbing and candles as more of a threat to their eyes than fireworks,” said Philip Rizzuto, M.D., clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “It’s very concerning to me as an ophthalmologist because I’ve seen how devastating consumer fireworks can be to someone’s vision. I sincerely hope this survey puts the risk of fireworks injuries in a new perspective and encourages more people to take precautions.”
Some of the more severe fireworks eye injuries that can occur from fireworks include chemical and thermal burns, rupture of the eyeball and corneal abrasions.
Fireworks Survey Results
To better understand how people view fireworks and fireworks safety practices, the Academy commissioned a nationally representative survey of more than 2,000 adults online. Among the findings:
- Many report injury by fireworks, plan to use fireworks: One-third said they know someone who has been injured by fireworks or has been injured themselves. Despite the known dangers, 1 in 5 said they still use fireworks themselves on Fourth of July.
- More say it’s OK for kids to play with sparklers/fireworks than candles, stove: Only 11 percent said it’s OK for a child of that age range to light birthday candles and 4 percent think it’s OK for them to cook on a stove unsupervised. By comparison, more than half, or 54 percent, say that children ages of 5 to 10 should be allowed to handle sparklers and other fireworks.
- Few protect their eyes from fireworks; more do for home repair, cleaning: Only 10 percent of people said they wear protective eyewear when using fireworks. In comparison, nearly 26 percent reported wearing protective eyewear when doing home repair like plumbing or carpentry, and almost 28 percent use eye protection when cleaning their homes.
Fireworks Safety Tips
- Small doesn’t equal safe:A common culprit of fireworks injuries is the kind often handed to small children – the classic sparkler. Many people mistakenly believe sparklers are harmless due to their size. However, they can reach temperatures of up to 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt certain metals.
- Even though it looks like a dud, it may not act like one: At age 16, Jameson Lamb was hit square in the eye with a Roman candle that he thought had been extinguished. Now 20, Lamb has gone through multiple surgeries including a corneal transplant and a stem cell transplant.
- Just because you’re not lighting or throwing it doesn’t mean you’re out of the firing line:An international study of fireworks-related eye injuries showed that half of those hurt were bystanders. The researchers also found that one in six of these injuries caused severe vision loss.
- The Fourth can be complete without using consumer fireworks: The Academy advises that the safest way to view fireworks is to watch a professional show.
For more fireworks safety tips, check out our guide here.
Shared from the AAO