St. Louis - Celebrating Fourth of July is an exciting time for most people but can quickly turn into an unfortunate experience when firework injuries occur.
Fireworks injure an estimated 13,000 people annually with a large number of cases seen in late June and early July. About 2,000 of those injuries are eye related.
“To make it an even more tragic situation is the fact that a majority of these injuries happen to children,” said Gil Grand, MD, ophthalmologist with the Barnes Retina Institute. “Therefore their injuries are very severe and last their entire lives.”
Dr. Grand says it isn’t necessarily the person who ignites the fireworks who’s at risk, but often innocent bystanders as bottle rockets or cherry bombs might be positioned beneath an object such as a glass jar or a can before they are ignited.
“People also should be aware that objects such as bottle rockets can not only misfire and hit them, but hit bystanders close by,” he says. “Also, one important rule is that if a firework fails to ignite, don’t try to re-ignite it because by that time the fuse is often quite short and you could end up with an injury to hands as well as eyes.”
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) and Dr. Grand professional fireworks displays are a safer alternative to celebrating our nation’s independence.
However, if fireworks are purchased, Dr. Grand advises adult supervision around children and wearing safety goggles at all times to prevent an eye injury.
He adds that if an eye is injured, the patient should immediately be taken to the emergency room or an ophthalmologist because such injuries often result in permanent vision loss.