By Holly Bonner
With Memorial Day fast approaching, families across the country are beginning to shop for summertime toys their hoping their kids will love. However, while some toys may appear to offer hours of entertainment, they may also pose a serious risk of eye injuries – including permanent vision loss. Low Vision Specialists of Maryland and Virginia is urging the public to consider safety standards when shopping for children’s toys. In 2018, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reported 251,800 toy-related injuries were treated by emergency rooms. 44 percent of those reported injuries occurred to the head and facial region of children, with an overwhelming majority of kids being injured under the age of 5.
Common eye injuries caused by toy accidents can range from a minor scratch to the front of the eye, also known as a corneal abrasion, to much more serious injuries such as a corneal ulcer. In extreme cases, some toy related injuries have actually lead to permanent eye damage or even blindness due to traumatic cataracts, retinal detachment, or bleeding within the eye.
While toys may be designed to be played with, adults must consider the potential ocular hazards to their child before purchasing the product.
You can do your part by avoiding the most commons toys associated with eye injuries. Remember, injury is more common with young children who play without supervision.
1. Any toy that shoots a projectile. Any toy that shoots or propels a small object can potentially cause significant damage to the eyes. This includes toy guns that shoot lightweight, foam darts. While many adults may believe these soft projectiles pose little risk, darts can shoot up to 75 feet at a high enough rate of speed to cause an eye injury. If your child is obsessed with the superhero craze and desperately desires a toy like this, do you due diligence and purchase a pair of safety goggles for them to use with it.
2. Water balloon launchers and water guns. Water balloons have been reported to cause eye trauma and retinal detachment. These toys can produce enough force to knock a person unconscious at 900 feet. Toy water guns may also shoot a stream of water that can cause serious eye damage, especially when shot at close range.
3. Sword, wands, or toy fishing poles. Young children lack the hand eye coordination to maintain adequate control over long objects, such as swords, wands or fishing poles. Objects secured to the end of the fishing line can easily end up in a playmate’s eye.
4. Aerosol string. Aerosol-propelled string may seem harmless, but the “string” in these types of products is comprised of harmful chemicals that can cause eye irritation, including chemical conjunctivitis, a type of pink eye. In addition, directing aerosol-propelled string at someone’s eyes from close range may scratch the cornea, potentially leading to an eye infection.
5. Laser pointers and flashlights. It may seem somewhat odd to consider laser pointers and flashlights on this list. However, many children love playing “laser” or “flashlight” tag. A laser can cause significant retinal damage if shined in the eyes for even short amounts of time. Furthermore, high-powered LED flashlights can cause temporary blindness, which can potentially put children at a greater risk for trips and falls.
What You Can Do to Avoid an Ocular Toy Injury:
The next time you consider purchasing a toy for your children, relatives, or friends, remember to consider safety first. A good rule of thumb is to discuss your anticipated purchase with the parents of the child for whom you are shopping. Let them provide suggestions to help you decide if the toy is really safe for that kid. Packaging on toys already provides a designated age for which each toy is designed. Informed consumers should combine this information with what they know about the individual maturity of the child and ask themselves if younger siblings may also potentially have access this toy purchase. If you’re still feeling unsure about what toy to buy that is both safe and enjoyable, go with a gift card, a surefire way to include the entire family in the selection process.