By Ivan Castillo, MD

Summer is here, and for many that means outdoor celebrations that include fireworks, especially around the 4th of July. Unfortunately, this also means an increase in eye injuries. Here are a few fast facts:

  • According to the most recent Consumer Product Safety Commission report, 15% of fireworks injuries were eye injuries.
  • Children under 15 accounted for 36% of the total injuries caused by fireworks.
  • Even sparklers can be dangerous — they burn at 2,000 degrees and were responsible for 1,200 injuries in 2018 alone.
  • If you are not actually handling fireworks, you could still be in danger as approximately 65% of people injured by fireworks are bystanders.
  • Fireworks can cause permanent eye damage and vision loss.
  • Some of the most severe fireworks eye injuries include rupture of the globe of the eye, chemical and thermal burns, corneal abrasions and retinal detachment.

How to Protect Your Eyes from Fireworks
The best way to protect your eyes is to leave fireworks to the professionals by attending a public display rather than attempting to set off fireworks at home or at a neighborhood gathering. Additional tips include the following:

  • Respect safety barriers and follow all safety instructions.
  • View fireworks from at least 500 feet away.
  • Do not touch unexploded fireworks.

In addition, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that all fireworks professionals and bystanders wear eye protection that meets criteria set by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

What to Do for a Fireworks Eye Injury
If you or someone you know experiences an eye injury caused by fireworks, treat the situation as an emergency and seek medical attention immediately.

  • Do not rub your eyes.
  • Do not rinse your eyes.
  • Do not apply pressure.
  • Do not remove any objects that are stuck in the eye.
  • Do not apply ointments or take any blood-thinning pain medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen unless directed by a doctor.

At Texas Retina Associates, we have unfortunately seen our share of eye injuries caused by fireworks and encourage you to take all of the necessary precautions to keep you and your family safe this summer.