Ophthalmologists issue top tips for toy shopping to protect children's vision
SAN FRANCISCO — As holiday shopping hits its peak, the American Academy of Ophthalmology urges consumers – and especially parents – to exercise caution when considering the purchase of toys that commonly cause eye injuries, such as those that shoot projectiles, contain laser devices and include other sharp or protruding parts.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that there were 265,000 toy-related injuries treated in emergency rooms last year. Most of these injuries affect children under age 15, and nearly half affect the head or face.[i] Common eye injuries from these toys include corneal abrasion (scratch), ocular hyphema, traumatic cataract and increased intraocular pressure, injuries which can require surgery to treat. In most cases, the victims of these toy-related injuries were not wearing protective eyewear. In light of these dangers, the American Academy of Ophthalmology advises shoppers to follow these tips when choosing toys for children:
- Avoid purchasing toys with sharp, protruding or projectile parts such as airsoft guns, BB guns and paintball guns, which can propel foreign objects into the sensitive tissues of the eye.
- Look for labels on laser products that include a compliance statement with 21 CFR Subchapter J to ensure the product meets the Code of Federal Regulations requirements for laser products, including power limitations. In addition, never aim or shine a laser directly at anyone, including animals, or reflective surfaces. The light energy from a laser aimed into the eye can be hazardous. The Food and Drug Administration also advises that bright beams of light can be startling and cause accidents when aimed at a driver in a car or otherwise negatively affect someone who is engaged in other activity (such as playing sports).[ii]
- When giving sports equipment, provide children with the appropriate protective eyewear with polycarbonate lenses. Check with your ophthalmologist to learn about protective gear recommended for your child's sport.
- Check labels for age recommendations and be sure to select gifts that are appropriate for a child's age and maturity. Also, keep toys that are made for older children away from younger children.
- Make sure children have appropriate supervision when playing with potentially hazardous toys or games that could cause an eye injury.
"Over the years there has been no end to the variety of objects I have seen children accidentally poke, throw or shoot at each other's eyes," said David G. Hunter, M.D., Ph.D., a pediatric ophthalmologist and clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. "It's crucial that as parents we consider the safety of our children's toys. We must remember to choose toys that are appropriate for our child's age and abilities as well as our own ability to supervise use of the toys as necessary."
If your child experiences an eye injury from a toy, seek immediate medical attention from an ophthalmologist – a medical doctor specializing in the diagnosis, medical and surgical treatment of eye diseases and conditions. For more information about keeping eyes healthy during the holidays and all year round, visit the American Academy of Ophthalmology's public education website at www.geteyesmart.org.
About the American Academy of Ophthalmology
The American Academy of Ophthalmology, headquartered in San Francisco, is the world's largest association of eye physicians and surgeons — Eye M.D.s — with more than 32,000 members worldwide. Eye health care is provided by the three "O's" – ophthalmologists, optometrists, and opticians. It is the ophthalmologist, or Eye M.D., who has the education and training to treat it all: eye diseases, infections and injuries, and perform eye surgery. For more information, visit www.aao.org.
The Academy's EyeSmart® program educates the public about the importance of eye health and empowers them to preserve healthy vision. EyeSmart provides the most trusted and medically accurate information about eye diseases, conditions and injuries. OjosSanos™ is the Spanish-language version of the program. Visit www.geteyesmart.org or www.ojossanos.org to learn more.
[ii] http://www.fda.gov/downloads/ForConsumers/ ConsumerUpdates/UCM363938.pdf