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For most people, the July 4th holiday means getting together with family, enjoying a parade, and eating some delicious food. And at the end of the day, it means enjoying a fireworks display. And that worries Dr. Katherine Sun, an ophthalmologist in Springfield.
“I usually get a little bit nervous this time of year because I know I’ll see fireworks-related injuries.”
According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, about 1600 Americans injure their eyes each year with fireworks. Dr. Sun says fireworks-related eye injuries are serious.
“It could involve eyelid lacerations, cornea burns, traumatic cataracts, detached retina, damage to the optic nerve, or eye muscle injuries. Often, this will lead to vision loss, sometimes permanent vision loss, even blindness.”
Dr. Sun says injuries from bottle rockets are typically the worst, but she says even sparklers can lead to eye injuries.
“Sparklers burn at 1200 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s high enough to cause a third degree burn. That usually hurts young children, even children under age 4.”
There are five safety tips from the American Academy of Ophthalmology that you can follow to stay safe this July 4th.
“Never let children play with fireworks of any kind. Use fireworks from at least 500 feet away. Leave it to the trained professionals, rather than putting on your own home show. Respect the barriers set up by the authorities. If you find an unexploded firecracker, don’t touch it. Report it to the fire or police department.”
Dr. Sun points out that even though medical technology is very advanced, there are many eye injuries that are irreparable. She says that’s why it’s so critical to exercise extreme care when handling fireworks.