What You Don’t Know About Fireworks Can Cost You Your Sight
By Matthew Weed, MD
Even though we can celebrate this Fourth of July without social distancing from one another, we should continue to keep our distance from fireworks – a lot of distance.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s most recent report, 15 percent of the season’s 10,000 estimated fireworks-related injuries were eye injuries.
This makes eye injuries one of the most common dangers of fireworks. Moreover, most of the victims are children and bystanders located nowhere near the pyrotechnics.
Most people just don’t see the harm in handheld fireworks like bottle rockets and sparklers. They learn importance of eye protection and safety measures all too late.
The best policy is to leave fireworks to the professionals. But if you choose to celebrate with fireworks, take protective measures like wearing safety goggles and keeping your distance to ensure your family is safe.
The Washington Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons and the American Academy of Ophthalmology are working to dispel the myths that put people at risk of blindness each Independence Day:
Myth #1: Consumer fireworks are harmless. Fireworks can cause blinding eye injuries such as chemical and thermal burns, corneal abrasions or retinal detachment. If you live in a state where consumer fireworks are legal and have plans to use them, wear eye protection.
Myth #2: Sparklers are made for kids and aren’t dangerous. Don’t let their small size fool you; sparklers burn at more than 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s hot enough to melt certain metals.
Myth #3: Duds are harmless. Malfunctioning fireworks should be handled with caution. Do not try to relight faulty fireworks. Instead, soak it in water and throw the dud away.
Myth #4: Only those handling the fireworks are at risk. The majority of firework-related eye injuries happen to bystanders. Watch fireworks from at least 500 feet away and make sure everyone is wearing eye protection.
If an eye injury does occur, seek medical attention right away. Do not to rub or rinse your eyes, as this could cause further damage. A great deal of safety information is available at Eyesmart.org.
However, you can save time and avoid danger this Independence Day by simply keeping your distance and foregoing the handheld fireworks.
Matthew Weed, M.D. is a practicing Ophthalmologist in Spokane, WA. He is a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) and currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the Washington Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons (WAEPS).