As the Fourth of July is synonymous with fireworks, Prevent Blindness suggests that Americans attend only authorized firework displays because there is a potential for traumatic eye injuries.
“Every year, thousands of people are injured due to accidents involving fireworks,” Jeff Todd, president and CEO of Prevent Blindness, said in a press release from the group. “These happen in a split second, often to bystanders, and some injuries are so severe that permanent damage occurs.”
Last year, U.S. emergency departments treated about 7,600 fireworks-related injuries surrounding the Fourth of July period, according to the latest report from the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission. Prevent Blindness estimated that there were 11,100 fireworks-related injuries in 2017 and, of those, 31% were children younger than 15 years. Additionally, four people died from direct firework impact in 2016, according to the release. However, fireworks-related injuries to the eye usually include contusions, lacerations and foreign bodies, although most result in a burn.
As a member of the National Fire Protection Association’s Alliance to Stop Consumer Fireworks,” Prevent Blindness supports a ban on the importation, sale and use of fireworks and sparklers, excluding the use in authorized fireworks displays by competent, licensed operators. Unfortunately, professional displays can still be dangerous, the organization warns, because of the erratic and unpredictable nature of fireworks.
Prevent Blindness recommends seeking medical attention immediately in the event of an eye emergency. Additional recommendations include not rubbing or rinsing the eye, which could increase bleeding or make the injury worse. Instead of applying pressure, hold or tape a foam cup or juice carton bottom to the eye to protect from further damage, according to the release. Prevent Blindness also strongly suggests not stopping for medicine because aspirin — which should not be administered to children — and ibuprofen can increase bleeding by thinning the blood. Furthermore, Prevent Blindness does not recommend applying ointment because it not only makes the area slippery and difficult for a physician to examine, it also may not be sterile.