AAOphth reminds parents to consider eye safety when purchasing holiday toys

December 10, 2013

The American Academy of Ophthalmology reminds parents to exercise caution when considering the purchase of toys that commonly cause eye injuries this holiday season.

San Francisco, CA-As holiday shopping hits its peak, the American Academy of Ophthalmology urges consumers-and especially parents-to exercise caution when considering the purchase of toys that commonly cause eye injuries, such as those that shoot projectiles, contain laser devices and include other sharp or protruding parts. 

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that there were 265,000 toy-related injuries treated in emergency rooms last year. Most of these injuries affect children under age 15, and nearly half affect the head or face. Common eye injuries from these toys include corneal abrasion, ocular hyphema, traumatic cataract, and increased intraocular pressure-injuries which can require surgery to treat. In most cases, the victims of these toy-related injuries were not wearing protective eyewear.

In light of these dangers, the American Academy of Ophthalmology advises shoppers to follow these tips when choosing toys for children:

• Avoid purchasing toys with sharp, protruding or projectile parts such as airsoft guns, BB guns and paintball guns, which can propel foreign objects into the sensitive tissues of the eye.

• Look for labels on laser products that include a compliance statement with 21 CFR Subchapter J to ensure the product meets the Code of Federal Regulations requirements for laser products, including power limitations. In addition, never aim or shine a laser directly at anyone, including animals, or reflective surfaces. The light energy from a laser aimed into the eye can be hazardous. The Food and Drug Administration also advises that bright beams of light can be startling and cause accidents when aimed at a driver in a car or otherwise negatively affect someone who is engaged in other activity (such as playing sports).

• When giving sports equipment, provide children with the appropriate protective eyewear with polycarbonate lenses. Check with your ophthalmologist to learn about protective gear recommended for your child's sport.

• Check labels for age recommendations and be sure to select gifts that are appropriate for a child's age and maturity. Also, keep toys that are made for older children away from younger children.

• Make sure children have appropriate supervision when playing with potentially hazardous toys or games that could cause an eye injury.