The holiday season is upon us — which means it’s time to start shopping for Christmas. We’re sure your kids have already given you a list of everything they want this year. When you’re out doing your Christmas shopping, we urge you to carefully examine each item on their wish list to make sure the toys are safe and appropriate for your child. There are many toys and other products marketed for kids that have the potential to cause serious eye injuries and other harm.
December Is Safe Toys and Gifts Month
December is known as Safe Toys and Gifts Month. Each year, several thousand children under the age of 15 are rushed to emergency rooms all over the country suffering from toy-related eye injuries. These injuries can result in permanent vision damage and even blindness.
The Houston eye doctors at Berkeley Eye Center fully support the AAO’s efforts to raise awareness and educate the public on the importance of selecting safe toys for the young ones on their gift lists.
Toymakers in the U.S. adhere to a mandatory set of safety rules and regulations under ASTM F963 – Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Toy Safety, created under ASTM International. Despite these rules and regulations, there are still a lot of potentially dangerous kids’ products on store shelves. According to the U.S. Consumer Safety Commission, emergency rooms treated over 206,400 toy-related injuries in 2021. Many of these were eye injuries.
Common Toy-related Eye Injuries
Toy-related eye injuries can range from mild irritation or mild corneal abrasions to serious and sight-threatening injuries, including:
- Retinal detachment
- Scratched eyes (corneal abrasions)
- Traumatic cataracts
- Acute hyphema
- Subconjunctival hemorrhages
- Increased intraocular pressure
If your child suffers an eye injury, it’s important to seek immediate medical attention. Even a mild eye injury should be examined by a doctor; left untreated, it could result in a serious infection or even blindness. In some instances, oculoplastic surgery may be required to repair damage to the eye socket and other ocular structures.
Avoid Buying Toys That Could Cause Eye Injuries
Here’s some safety tips to keep in mind when shopping for gifts for younger children:
- Only select toys and other gifts that are appropriate for the child’s age and developmental level.
- Try to avoid toy weapons/projectile toys – anything with shooting parts, pointed ends or parts that fly off, things that could potentially cause eye and face injuries.
- Keep fireworks out of the hands of younger children; closely supervise when used by older children.
- If you buy sporting equipment, make sure it’s age and size appropriate and don’t forget to include proper eye safety gear, such as goggles, glasses or helmets.
- Inspect any playground equipment for parts that could possibly cause eye injuries
- Keep high powered laser pointers out of the hands of kids – even a few seconds of laser exposure to the eye has the potential to cause severe retinal damage.
- Supervise children when they’re playing with potentially hazardous toys.
- Know what to do if an eye or other type of injury occurs.
- Keep toys intended for older children out of the reach of younger ones.
- Hold on to the product warranty documentation and user directions that come with the gifts.
Toys That Have the Biggest Potential to Cause Eye Injuries
There are many online resources to help adults select safe toys and gifts for children. One of the most popular is World Against Toys Causing Harm, Inc. (W.A.T.C.H.) which releases a “Ten Worst Toys” list each year. According to this year’s list, the top toys most likely to cause eye injuries are:
- Disney Raya’s Action & Adventure Sword
- Nerf Pro Gelfire Mythic Blasters
- Black Panther Wakanda Battle Claws
If your child suffers an eye injury from a toy or gift, seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Have a Safe and Happy Holiday Season
The team at Berkeley Eye Center wants everyone to have a safe and happy holiday season. We urge adults to look for safe toys when selecting their gifts.
Berkeley Eye Center has been protecting the vision of Houstonians for over 60 years. If your child is experiencing vision problems that weren’t caused by an injury, it’s important to bring them in for a comprehensive eye exam as soon as possible. Early detection and treatment are the key to preventing minor vision problems from getting worse.
Contact Berkeley Eye Center to schedule an appointment. We provide a full range of services including eyewear, LASIK surgery and oculoplastic procedures, and with clinics all around the city of Houston and surrounding communities, so there’s sure to be a Berkeley Eye Center near you.