Prevent Eye Injury to Enjoy Holiday Fireworks



Annual Fourth of July celebrations lead to spikes in eye injuries and vision loss, so practice vision safety by avoiding the handling of fireworks.

Fireworks Can Cause Permanent Eye Damage

Fireworks have played an important part in Independence Day and patriotic celebrations for two centuries. As summer begins, pyrotechnic enthusiasts can find fireworks vendors on every corner.

It may sound harmless to purchase sparklers, poppers, Roman candles and ground spinners, but consumer fireworks can cause serious injuries and vision problems. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 16 percent of fireworks injuries are eye-related.

Ocular Trauma Peaks in the Summer

More eye trauma occurs in May through August than other months, mostly due to holidays like Memorial Day and Fourth of July. Injuries can vary from scratches on the cornea and foreign objects in the conjunctiva to cuts on the eyelid, detached retina, fractured orbital and open globe injuries.

Chemicals in fireworks can also harm eye tissues. Although these substances are responsible for the vivid display of luminescent colors, chemicals can disrupt the eye’s normal pH and cause chemical burns or contribute to chronic eye conditions like cataracts, glaucoma or retinal toxicity.

Explosives can also cause burns around the eyes, facial lacerations, fractures, retinal damage and scarring.

Kids and Teens Are Often Victims of Fireworks Accidents

Vendors tout that consumer fireworks provide fun for the whole family, but all fireworks are potentially harmful. Children younger than 15 comprise about 33 percent of all eye injuries, and teens from 15 to 19 are most likely to need emergency treatment.

Follow These Safety Tips for a Fireworks Show

The best way to protect your eyes during fireworks is to attend a professional, public event. It is safest to stand at least 500 feet away from dry leaves or flammable materials.

“If [people] must use their own fireworks, it is imperative to wear safety glasses, maintain appropriate distance from the explosive, and follow all safety practices recommended by the manufacturer,” said Isaac D. Bleicher, MD, director of the trauma service at Mass Eye and Ear.

Cataract Surgery Can Restore Brilliance to Colorful Fireworks

Do you notice that colors do not seem as vivid or brilliant as they used to appear? You may be developing a cataract, a clouding of the lens of the eye. Having cataracts can affect your vision by making bright colors like fireworks and summer flowers appear dull and muted.

Cataracts are a normal part of the aging process. However, eye trauma or eye injury can also cause cataracts. Up to 65 percent of eye injuries lead to cataract formation. Common symptoms of cataracts include the following:

  • Blurred vision
  • Double vision
  • Seeing halos around lights
  • Glare at night
  • Fading or yellowing of colors

In cataract surgery, the surgeon takes out the old, damaged lens and puts in a personalized intraocular lens (IOL) that fits your vision requirements. After undergoing cataract surgery, many patients experience improved vision that surpasses their previous clarity. This often leads them to question why they did not opt for the procedure earlier.

Schedule a Comprehensive Eye Exam Before the End of the Year

It is time to schedule appointments for preventive care like comprehensive eye exams before the year ends. All adults older than 40 should get a complete eye exam with dilation.

During vision testing, your eye doctor will give you a visual acuity test, look for refractive errors and screen you for common eye problems like cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration.

Locate a Board-Certified Ophthalmologist

Quality eye care is a worthy investment for healthy vision and preventing eye disease. Are you looking for a board-certified ophthalmologist? We can help you find an eye doctor at one of our vision centers located across the country. Call today to make an appointment for the whole family.