AUSTIN, Texas, June 13, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- June is Fireworks Eye Safety Awareness Month, and the Texas Ophthalmological Association (TOA) wants to remind consumers to leave fireworks to professionals. "Too many Fourth of July celebrations are ruined because a child has to be rushed to the emergency room after a fireworks accident," said David K. Coats, MD, TOA President and pediatric ophthalmologist at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston. "Potentially blinding injuries can be avoided if families attend a professional public fireworks display instead of putting on a home fireworks display."
Children are the most common victims of fireworks accidents, with those 15 years old or younger accounting for half of all fireworks eye injuries in the United States. For children under the age of five, seemingly innocent sparklers account for one-third of all fireworks injuries. Sparklers can burn at nearly 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to cause a third-degree burn.
Roberto Diaz-Rohena, MD of McAllen once treated a 4 yr-old boy who lost an eye due to a rocket-induced ruptured globe. "The sad part was that the dad asked the young boy to pick up the rocket from the floor when it didn't shoot into the air. It did when the boy picked up the rocket – right into his eye. I'll never forget the dad's guilt-driven howling."
Fireworks are not toys for children to play with. "I treated a little girl last year who had a bottle rocket blow up in her face. The child suffered a severe eye injury and one eye is now legally blind. Be careful, because life can change in an instant," said Evelyn Paysse, MD, of Texas Children's Hospital in Houston."Among the most serious injuries are abrupt trauma to the eye from bottle rockets," according to Dr. Coats. The rockets fly erratically, often injuring bystanders. Injuries from bottle rockets can include eyelid lacerations, corneal abrasions, traumatic cataract, retinal detachment, optic nerve damage, rupture of the eyeball, eye muscle damage and complete blindness. For a safe and healthy Independence Day celebration, the TOA urges observance of the following tips:
- Never let children play with fireworks of any type.
- View fireworks from a safe distance: at least 500 feet away, or up to a quarter of a mile for best viewing.
- Leave the lighting of fireworks to trained professionals.
- If you find unexploded fireworks remains, do not touch them. Immediately contact your local fire or police departments.
- If you get an eye injury from fireworks, seek medical help immediately.