June 14, 2013
1 min read

European ophthalmologists concerned about number of firework-related eye injuries

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Ophthalmologists from all parts of Europe expressed concern here about the alarming number of firework-induced eye injuries despite awareness campaigns.

"All over Europe and in specific times of year, they are still a huge problem. Half are reported in patients who have not ignited the firework by themselves, but were hit by somebody else’s projectiles," Jan-Tjeerd de Faber, MD, moderator of the Explosive Session at the meeting of the European Society of Ophthalmology, said.

Campaigns targeted to children and parents have been partly successful in reducing the number of injuries in children.

"Through the years, we have been able to see that in about 80% of cases, the victims of firework injuries were boys aged between 8 and 18," de Faber said. "We managed to reduce the incidence in this age group, particularly in the youngest, but numbers are still too high."

Among European countries, Denmark has the longest survey — 38 years — and one of the most active campaigns. John Thygesen, MD, reported a 10 per 100,000 annual rate of injuries related to fireworks.

In the Netherlands, a national 5-year survey was carried out.

"In a [population of] 16 million … we have 350 eye injuries and 25 blind eyes per year. This cannot be the meaning of a party," de Faber said.

New initiatives, including a petition to ban consumer fireworks, are in the pipeline.

"The goal is to have only public firework displays with experts lighting them. Obstacles come from consumers, but also from firework retailers. [They] are a powerful lobby with a turnover of €75 million every year," de Faber said.

Disclosure: No products or companies are mentioned that would require financial disclosure.