Eye Injury Common during July 4th Celebrations

03 Jul

Here are some great eye safety tips from Bascom Palmer as published in the electronic version of Vision Monday.

There are many dangers to consumer fireworks, such as severe eye injury and blindness, and the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at the University of Miami Health System is urging families to celebrate this Fourth of July holiday with caution.

On average, more than 9,000 injuries occur from fireworks each year nationwide, and common injuries to the eye include burns, lacerations, abrasion, retinal detachment, optic nerve damage and ruptured eyeballs, the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute said in a statement. 

For those purchasing consumer fireworks, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute recommends that everyone use protective eyewear. Do not let young children play with fireworks of any kind, even sparklers, while older children should be closely supervised when using them.

“Fireworks are one of the most dangerous activities, in terms of eye injuries,” said Kendall Donaldson, MD, cornea and external disease specialist at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. “Each year hundreds of people end up with terrible eye injuries and burns from fireworks, and a lot of the victims are bystanders and children. There is just no way to safely use fireworks at home. Even sparklers can permanently damage the eye. Sparklers are not toys and children should not be holding them. The only safe way to see fireworks is to go to a professional fireworks show.”

Additionally, the National Fire Protection Association has issued a public service announcement warning about the use of consumer fireworks and urging participants to leave the firework displays to the professionals. 

“Knowing the harm fireworks inflict each year, particularly on young people, we urge everyone to leave fireworks to the professionals, who are trained to safely put on spectacular displays. It is by far the safest way to enjoy them,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of outreach and advocacy.

Furthermore, when attending a public fireworks show, view the display from at least 500 feet away, respect all safety barriers, follow the direction of firefighters and police, and do not touch unexploded fireworks.

According to Prevent Blindness, if injured by fireworks there are specific steps to take to help save your sight. It is important not to rub or attempt to rinse the eye, do not apply ointment, do not apply pressure to the eye and do not take medicines such as pain relievers like Aspirin or ibuprofen.

Prevent Blindness continues to work closely with fire, law enforcement, medical groups and other public safety officials to help keep adults and children safe, and strongly recommends attending only public displays by licensed pyrotechnic professionals. 


Dr. Henahan is always available to assist with eye injuries.  Simply call 770-487-0667 and press option 1 to be connected to his emergency mobile phone line.

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