Dr. Swati J. Parekh Says, “Ask for protective eyewear on your holiday gift wish list”
In the beloved holiday movie, A Christmas Story, Ralphie attempts to convince his parents and Santa that a “Red Ryder BB gun” is the perfect Christmas gift. They all reject his pleas with the same warning: “You’ll shoot your eye out.” While you may not literally shoot your eye out, a new study in Ophthalmology Retina – a journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology – shows that BB and pellet guns do blind children every year.
And, the number of eye injuries related to such non-powder guns are increasing at an alarming rate. Another study published earlier this year showed an increase of almost 170 percent over the last 23 years. If toy guns are on your shopping list, *EyeCare Consultants of NJ and the American Academy of Ophthalmology urge you to also give the gift of protective eyewear. Protective eyewear and proper guidance make BB, pellet and paintball gun activities safer for children.
To prevent eye injuries, ophthalmologists – physicians who specialize in medical and surgical eye care – share the following tips.
- Buy the proper eye protection. Always wear eye protection that meets appropriate national standards when using non-powder guns.
- Get a target. Have children shoot BB and pellet guns at paper or gel targets with a backstop to trap BBs or pellets.
- Educate children. Teach them proper safety precautions for handling and using non-powder guns.
- Be present. Ensure that there is always appropriate adult supervision.
- Know what to do (and what not to) if an eye injury occurs. Seek immediate medical attention from an ophthalmologist. As you wait for medical help, make sure to never to touch, rub, apply pressure, or try to remove any object stuck in the eye.
“Ophthalmologists see first-hand the devastating damage toy guns, of any type, can inflict on the eyes; children are injured or blinded & I’ve seen it,” says Swati J. Parekh, MD, FAAO, Chairwoman of St. Joseph’s Health Department of Ophthalmology, Wayne/Paterson, NJ. “The good news is that most of these injuries are truly avoidable. Protective eyewear and adult supervision make non-powder gun activities much safer for children. If you can’t resist the Ralphies in your life, buy protective eyewear.”
(*education provided in collaboration with the AAO)