Fireworks displays are one of the most recognizable symbols of Independence Day. But there are risks, warns Lions Clubs International, a worldwide service organization dedicated to the conservation of sight.
About 2,000 eye injuries are reported each year, with nearly half by bystanders, not the people who set off the fireworks. Even sparklers can be dangerous – they are the No. 1 cause of eye injury to children. Sparklers consist of metal shrapnel burning at about 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit.
“Despite our many advances in the ability to repair severely injured eyes, the damage can be devastating, often resulting in blindness, permanently impaired vision or loss of one or both eyes,” says Dr. Christopher Andreoli, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary’s chief resident and director of eye trauma.
But Andreoli says that most eye injuries caused by fireworks are preventable. Lions Clubs International and Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary offer these sight-saving tips:
- Leave it to the pros. Pack a picnic and attend a professional fireworks display instead of lighting your own.
- Leave it to the adults. Don’t let children ignite fireworks or stand near others who do.
- Keep your distance. View fireworks from at least 500 feet away, and keep away from a lighted firework. Many injuries occur when checking on a firework that has failed to ignite.
- Wear eye protection. Eyeglasses or sunglasses can help protect the eyes from smoke, falling ash and stray sparks.
If an accident does occur, Andreoli advises covering the injured eye. Don’t apply pressure to the eye or rub it, as that can make the injury worse and cause bleeding. Don’t eat or drink anything until seen by a doctor. Most importantly, seek medical help immediately.
Lions Clubs International is the world’s largest service club organization with nearly 1.35 million members in 197 countries.