July 2, 2010
Leave Fireworks to the Professionals this Fourth of July
American Academy of Ophthalmology Offers Tips for Fireworks Safety
SAN FRANCISCO - Each Fourth of July, thousands of people are injured from using consumer fireworks. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 9,000 fireworks-related injuries happen each year. Of these, nearly half are head-related injuries with nearly 30 percent of these injuries to the eyes. One-fourth of fireworks eye injuries result in permanent vision loss or blindness.
July is Fireworks Eye Safety Awareness Month, and through its EyeSmart campaign the American Academy of Ophthalmology 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 Marguerite McDonald, MD, a clinical correspondent for the Academy. "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 firework accidents, with those fifteen 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.
"Among the most serious injuries are abrupt trauma to the eye from bottle rockets," according to Dr. McDonald. The rockets fly erratically, often injuring bystanders. Injuries from bottle rockets can include eye lid 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 Academy urges observance of the following tips:
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