• Surge in Popularity of Bows and Arrows Prompts Eye Safety Warnings as Holiday Gift-Giving Season Commences

    Ophthalmologists urge parents to beware of projectile-shooting toys that can cause serious eye injury and vision loss

    SAN FRANCISCO — With the holiday gift-buying season in full swing and a slew of current movies and TV shows such as "The Hunger Games," "The Walking Dead" and "Arrow" prominently featuring crossbows and quivers, the American Academy of Ophthalmology is urging parents and the public to avoid purchasing any projectile-shooting toys since they are known to cause traumatic eye injury and blindness.

    Roughly 1 in 10 children's eye injuries that end up in the ER are caused by toys, according to a 2014 study.[1] Overall, there were an estimated 256,700 toy-related injuries treated in emergency rooms nationwide in 2013, a report by the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission found.[2]  

    The American Academy of Ophthalmology advises parents to be cautious when choosing holiday gifts for young people and avoid those that launch projectiles, such as crossbows and BB guns. One toy crossbow that shoots darts more than 100 feet away landed on a list of most dangerous toys of 2014 for its potential to cause eye injury.[3] Plastic darts and arrows can scratch the eye, causing corneal abrasions, or in the case of pointed tips can puncture the eye and permanently damage a child's vision. Injuries from airsoft, BB and paintball guns are quite common and include retinal detachment that can cause vision loss; pooling of blood in the front of the eye (ocular hyphema) that can block vision and increase the risk of glaucoma; and traumatic cataracts, which may require surgery to restore sight.

    "People may view toy versions of bows and arrows as harmless, but even foam or plastic projectiles can potentially cause serious damage to a child's eye if used at close range," said Jane Edmond, M.D., a clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. "With so many other options for gift giving, physicians recommend that parents consider safer alternatives. Nobody wants to end up in the emergency room over the holidays, especially due to an injury caused by a gift."

    Toy safety tips recommended by the Academy:

    • 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 tissue of the eye.
    • For laser toys, look for labels 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.
    • When giving sports equipment, provide children with the appropriate protective eyewear with polycarbonate lenses, which are shatterproof.
    • Check labels for age recommendations to 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 adult supervision when playing with potentially hazardous toys or games that could cause an eye injury.

    For more information on toy safety, see the American Academy of Ophthalmology's toy safety page at geteyesmart.org or watch the toy safety video.

    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, serving more than 32,000 members worldwide. The Academy's mission is to advance the lifelong learning and professional interests of ophthalmologists to ensure that the public can obtain the best possible eye care. For more information, visit www.aao.org. 

    The Academy is also a leading provider of eye care information to the public. 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. Visitwww.geteyesmart.org or www.ojossanos.org to learn more.