Did you know that July has been designated as Fireworks Eye Safety Month? Annually, thousands of people suffer from injuries caused by fireworks during June and July, over a thousand of which involve eye injuries. A significant percentage of affected individuals are children and teens. Since fireworks can cause irreversible blindness, an ophthalmologist near Chicago may recommend that patients avoid fireworks displays altogether. If you do decide to view fireworks displays or to use legal consumer fireworks at home, you can ask your eye doctor for some eye care tips to protect your vision.
Understanding the Risks
Before attending a fireworks display, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the potential risks. Many people assume that the individuals who are handling the fireworks are at the highest risk of injury. It’s true that many of the injuries caused by fireworks involve the hands and fingers. However, roughly half of all fireworks injuries are sustained by bystanders . Fireworks can cause eye injuries such as ruptured eyeballs, optic nerve damage, retinal detachment, and thermal burns to the eye. They can also cause severe lacerations and abrasions.
Protecting Yourself as a Bystander
If you choose to enjoy summer fireworks displays, only attend authorized public displays that are conducted by individuals with the proper licensing. Stay behind the safety barriers, which should be placed at least 500 feet away from the fireworks. If you come across any unexploded fireworks, never try to pick them up. Instead, maintain a safe distance and contact your local fire or police department.
Using Consumer Fireworks Safely
Consumer fireworks are particularly dangerous, which is why many states and municipalities have made them illegal. If you do choose to purchase consumer fireworks, make sure they are legal in your area. Your eye doctor would also advise you to never give fireworks, including sparklers, to children. Sparklers can burn at up to 2,000 degrees. Those who handle fireworks and any individuals who are viewing the fireworks must wear protective eyewear at all times.
Responding to Fireworks Eye Injuries
Despite following these safety tips, serious eye injuries may still occur. It’s critical to get immediate medical help. While waiting for emergency responders to arrive, avoid rubbing the eye, applying pressure, applying ointments, rinsing the eye, or removing any embedded objects. Additionally, avoid taking pain relievers such as ibuprofen or aspirin.