A 2019 study published in the medical journal Pediatrics found that eye injuries from airsoft, BB, pellet and paintball guns have risen by 50% since 1990. In fact, since 2010, the number of people admitted to the hospital for eye injuries from air guns has increased 600 percent, and the majority of children’s eye injuries that led to a hospital admission were caused by air guns. Some of these injuries can lead to retinal detachment and even permanent vision loss.

Both the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) and the American Medical Association recommend that anyone using air guns wear proper protective goggles. Here are a few additional toy safety recommendations from the AAO:

  • Children playing with projectile toys, including nerf guns, toy crossbows and darts, should be supervised by an adult.
  • Be sure to read and follow manufacturer warnings and age guidelines, and keep toys that are made for older children away from younger children.
  • If you give sports equipment as a gift, include the appropriate protective eyewear with polycarbonate lenses.
  • Check the label of any laser product to ensure that the device complies with 21 CFR (the Code of Federal Regulations) Subchapter J.

Most importantly, if you or your child experiences any type of eye injury, seek immediate medical attention from an ophthalmologist.