Ophthalmologists have reason to fear the Fourth of July. According to the latest U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission data (PDF, 648KB), fireworks caused approximately 10,000 visits to the emergency department in 2016, about 9,000 of which were for eye injuries. Injuries range from cuts and bruises to damaged corneas, retinas and ruptured eyeballs.

“Even those little, innocent-looking sparklers people give children burn at 2,000 degrees.” – Dr. Steinemann

Mortars like those Northup purchased aren’t the main culprit. Most injuries are caused by legal fireworks parents buy for their children, such as sparklers, firecrackers, bottle rockets, and Roman candles.

“As ophthalmologists, we see so many preventable eye injuries, in adults and children” said Dr. Steinemann. “Even those little, innocent-looking sparklers people give children burn at 2,000 degrees.”

The American Academy of Ophthalmology advises that the safest way to view fireworks is to watch a professional show. For those who choose to set off fireworks, the Academy recommends wearing protective eyewear and keeping a hose and buckets of water on hand for duds and misfires. Soak the dud from a distance with a hose or a bucket of water. Pick it up with a shovel and fully submerge it in a bucket of water to ensure it’s safe for disposal.

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