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Nerf darts are soft, but that doesn’t mean they’re safe. Eye injuries from toy darts caused weeks of pain and blurred vision in three patients at the heart of a medical report.

The study supports what the American Academy of Ophthalmology has said many times: Projectile toys are not safe. Off-brand replacement darts can be even harder than the Nerf brand, causing even more damage.

Toy dart gun and foam darts on white background

What’s so dangerous about Nerf guns?

Dart guns can cause serious eye injuries. Eye scrapesbleedingcataracts, increased eye pressure and permanent vision loss are all possible.

The Academy stands by its guidance about projectile toys:

  • They are unsafe and you should think about buying something else.
  • If you do buy them for your children, supervise them while they play.
  • Always follow manufacturer warnings and age guidelines.

According to the United States’ Consumer Product Safety Commission’s 2019 report, emergency rooms in the U.S. treated more than a quarter million toy-related injuries in 2018. Make sure you choose safe toys for your kids’ health and your own peace of mind.

Children can lose an eye to crossbows, darts, air guns and other projectile toys

The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that consumers avoid purchasing projectile-firing toys due to safety concerns. If your children are playing with these types of toys, everyone, even adults, should wear eye protection to block flying objects from entering their eyes.

Some toy crossbows can shoot arrows nearly 150 feet. Even if arrows are foam and plastic, the impact at close range can cause serious eye damage. Typical injuries from plastic projectiles include corneal abrasions that can scar over when healed, permanently affecting vision.

Steel lawn darts became a staple of outdoor fun but were banned in the late 1980s after a significant number of children sustained injuries and some died. Other types of darts remain on the market and can impact the eye, causing injuries such as bleeding in the eye (known as hyphema), which itself raises the risk of developing glaucoma later on.

Most children’s eye injuries that led to a hospital admission were caused by air guns. Everyone, including both children and adults, should wear ballistic goggles when playing with paintball, pellet, airsoft and BB guns. 

Remind your family that projectile toys can cause serious eye injuries, even blindness. Share the Academy’s advice for selecting safe gifts this holiday season, and always wear protective goggles or a shield. If you experience an eye injury, call your ophthalmologist and seek medical help right away. 

Toy Guns, Crossbows and Nerf Darts Can Shoot Your Eyes Out

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