AAO displays fireworks safety in the month of June

May 28, 2008

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) is reminding consumers to leave fireworks to the professionals by naming June Fireworks Eye Safety Awareness Month.

San Francisco-According to the U.S. Product Safety Commission, more than 9,000 fireworks related injuries happen each year with nearly half that are head-related and 30% of those which are eye injuries. That is why the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) is reminding consumers to leave fireworks to the professionals by naming June Fireworks Eye Safety Awareness Month.

One-fourth of the eye injuries caused by fireworks result in permanent vision loss or blindness. Children are the most common victims of firework abuse and those 15 years old or younger account for 50% of fireworks eye injuries in the United States.

"There is nothing worse than a Fourth of July celebration ruined by someone being hit in the eye with a bottle rocket," said John C. Hagan, MD, clinical correspondent for the academy, Editor of Missouri Medicine, and an ophthalmologist at Discover Vision Centers in Kansas City. "A safe celebration means letting trained professionals handle fireworks while you enjoy the show.

"The most serious injuries are blunt trauma to the eye from bottle rockets," said Dr. Hagan. Injuries from bottle rockets can include eyelid lacerations, corneal abrasions, traumatic cataract, retinal detachment, optic nerve damage, rupture of the eyeball, eye muscle damage, and complete blindness.

One-third of all fireworks injuries for children under the age of 5 are caused by sparklers. "A sparkler's intense heat can burn not only skin, but also the eyes," said Dr. Hagan. "I've treated several children who suffered corneal burns from sparklers, which cause deep scars and have lead to permanent vision loss."