Children’s Toys, Eye Injuries, And Vision Loss
Children are filled with anticipation and excitement because December is the time of the year for gifts and toys. However, it is important to note that approximately 1 out of 10 children experience an eye injury and end up in the emergency room. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that parents be vigilant when choosing holiday gifts for children, and they also recommend avoiding toys like crossbows and BB guns that launch projectiles. Christmas is a special occasion for children and adults. Especially children because of the toys and gifts. This time of the year also allows children and adults to spread joy, and learn valuable attributes like kindness, forgiveness, and understanding. December 2022 is “Safe Toys And Celebration”/ Gifts month.
Parents must stop and consider the toy’s safety and age-appropriate classification. Each year thousands of children are hurt or even killed due to engagement with an unsafe or educationally inappropriate toy. Eye injuries caused by toys are corneal abrasions, blows to the eye leading to internal bleeding (known as hyphema), and in severe cases, retinal detachments and ruptured eyeballs that can lead to vision loss. Approximately 10% of children’s eye injuries that end up in the ER are caused by toys. The American Academy of Ophthalmology advises parents to be cautious when choosing holiday gifts for young people. They also recommend avoiding toys that launch projectiles, such as crossbows and BB guns.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission 2017 projections, for toy-related injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms, were approximately 251,700. Approximately 50% of those incidents were injuries to the head, and st of these injuries happen to children under age 15. Parents must be proactive and mindful of the safety of any gift they’re giving to a child. The American Academy of Ophthalmology urges parents to avoid buying toys that can cause serious eye injuries, even blindness.
Tips To Gift Giving:
The Prevent Blindness and PublicHealthMAPS.org organizations provide tips to gift-givers to make sure gifts are safe, especially those intended for children. Before purchasing a toy or gift, they suggest:
- Avoid purchasing toys with sharp or rigid points, spikes, rods, or dangerous edges
- Ask yourself or the parent if the toy is right for the child’s ability and age
- Consider whether other smaller children may be in the home that may have access to the toy
- Check the lenses and frames of children’s sunglasses; many can break and cause injuries
- Check labels for age recommendations and be sure to select gifts that are appropriate for a child’s age and maturity.
- Buy toys that will withstand impact and not break into dangerous shards
- Read all warnings and instructions on the box
- Look for the letters “ASTM.” This designation means the product meets the national safety standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials
- Avoid toys that shoot or include parts that fly off
- If you give a gift of sports equipment, also give the appropriate protective eyewear with polycarbonate lenses. Check with your ophthalmologist to learn about protective gear recommended for your child’s sport
- Gifts of sports equipment should always be accompanied by protective gear (such as a basketball along with eye goggles or a faceguard with a new batting helmet for baseball or softball)
- Don’t give toys with small parts to young children. Young kids tend to put things in their mouths, increasing the risk of choking
- Do not purchase toys with long strings or cords, especially for infants and very young children as these can become wrapped around a child’s neck;
- Always dispose of uninflated or broken balloons immediately. According to the CPSC, more children have suffocated from them than any other type of toy
- Ensure that laser product labels include a statement that the device complies with 21 CFR (the Code of Federal Regulations) Subchapter J (per an American Academy of Ophthalmology recommendation)
Things To Consider To Enhance Child Safety
Eliminate danger and potential harm to your child (Source: https://nationaltoday.com/safe-toys-and-gifts-month/):
- Inspect toys before purchasing
- Look for sharp points, edges, and parts that can fly off.
- Check for durability should a child attempt to break, crush or pull toys apart.
- Do not give toys with ropes, cords, or heating elements
- Make sure crayons and markers are labeled “nontoxic.”
- It is important to NEVER give small toys with removable magnets or “button” batteries. These can cause serious injury or even death if ingested.
- Make sure the toy is age-appropriate
- You must keep in mind that not every toy is meant for every child.
- Keep in mind the child’s age and development level (most toys offer an age range for guidance).
- If shopping for infants and children with special needs, look for toys that appeal to the senses (sound, light, movement, texture, etc.)
- Remember the rule: If the piece can fit in a toilet paper roll, it is not meant for children under 3 years of age.
- Spread the word. Even the best parents can get it wrong.
- It’s crucial to share your knowledge about unsafe toys with fellow parents, grandparents, babysitters, etc.
Why Safe Toys Are Important (Source: PublicHealthMAPS.org)
- It alerts us to choking hazards
- Choking is a major risk for children when playing with toys — specifically when they’re under 3 years old. Let’s thoroughly inspect the level of choking risk for each toy we give.
- Many toy manufacturers have put child safety first. However, adult supervision is the best way to manage and reduce risk
- Employees, buyers, and managers must make sure that the toys have an American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) label. This means that the toy has met national safety standards.
- The corks in champagne bottles can release at almost 50 mph, and the force can be strong enough to cause major damage to the eye.
- Aim the bottle away from your own or others’ eyes to avoid injury.
- Fireworks are not common during the Holiday Season and Christmas. However, it is important to practice safe fireworks protocols.
This Christmas 2022 and the Holidays are special this year when you compare them to Christmas 2021. We were amid COVID-19 and were limited in how we celebrated with family and loved ones. This year there we can expect a higher level of excitement and engagement during this special time of the year. It is important to note that parents, family members, and loved ones need to be careful and safe to make sure the toys fit each child’s needs when purchasing gifts for children.
If you experience any eye injuries during this joyful time contact us immediately so that we can give you, your child, or your family member the care they need.
We wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.