It’s that time of year when patriots young and old look forward to celebrating the 4th of July with an impressive amount of fireworks, food and fun. But Independence Day fun can quickly turn to fear when fireworks go sideways.
Injuries caused by fireworks are a growing problem in the United States with a 50% spike in injuries and deaths from 2019 to 2020.1 Among these recorded injuries, eye wounds are a serious concern. Colorado Ophthalmology Associates of Denver, CO, join with the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) in stressing eye safety during fireworks season.
Most Common Eye Injuries
The statistics on the kinds of eye injuries caused by fireworks mishaps are sobering. Among the number of burns and deaths caused by fireworks in 2020, 15% of them resulted in eye injuries and blindness, or 1,500 people.2 Children under 15 comprised 36% of the victims.3
Here is a sample of the eye injuries that fireworks can cause, leaving the patient with permanent eye damage, vision impairment or blindness:
- Corneal abrasions
- Chemical burns
- Thermal burns
- Debris damage
- Puncture damage
- Rupture of the globe
- Retinal detachment
Safety Tips to Follow
The AAO recommends that everyone enjoy fireworks at a professional, public light show rather than purchasing fireworks for home use.2 Bring patriotic music, glow sticks, and snacks to add to the fun.
But if you do decide to use fireworks at home, plan for safety before you even start your celebration to help prevent burns and eye injuries. Check out these safety tips that everyone should follow:1
- Restrict young children to safe viewing areas and never let them hold or light fireworks.
- Prepare a safe staging area far away from people.
- Keep a bucket of water and a hose nearby for emergencies.
- Do not allow horseplay or running near fireworks, including pointing or throwing fireworks at people.
- Be sure onlookers are at a safe distance before lighting any fireworks.
- Wear eye protection.
- Keep unused fireworks away from the staging area.
- Use fireworks according to instructions and refrain from adding bottles or containers.
- Don’t ignite fireworks when under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Use long lighters to reach the fireworks and keep your body back as far as possible. Move back quickly once it is lit.
- Leave smoldering fireworks alone.
- Never try to re-light dud fireworks.
Respond to an Eye Injury
In case of an eye injury, come to Colorado Ophthalmology Associates right away. Do not remove any object from the eye. Do not rub the eye or put eye drops or water in the eye. Placing a cup over the eye may help you to keep from touching it.3 Do not apply pressure to an injured eye. Do not take any medication until you have been seen by an eye specialist.
Get Help Fast
Even with the best prevention in place, an eye injury can still occur during a fireworks celebration. If you or someone you love suffers from a traumatic eye injury, contact one of our two Colorado locations in Denver or Lakewood immediately for an emergency appointment. Our board-certified ophthalmologists are here to help you when you need it the most.