The 4th of July is tomorrow in the USA, and with it comes neighborhood and community fireworks displays. Most of the people setting off fireworks have little to no training, and there are many injuries – including serious damage or destruction of the cornea.
400 Americans lose vision in one or both eyes each year because of eye injuries caused by fireworks.
- Approximately 8,500 Americans are treated in emergency rooms each year for fireworks-related injuries. Of these, it is estimated that 20 percent are eye injuries.
- As many as 400 Americans lose vision in one or both eyes each year because of eye injuries caused by fireworks.
- Children, 16 years and younger, account for 60 percent of fireworks eye injuries in the United States.
- 80 percent of fireworks injuries occur around the Fourth of July holiday, between June 29 and July 5.
- More than 40 percent of injuries happen to bystanders.
- By far, the most dangerous type of firework is the bottle rocket. The bottle rocket flies erratically, frequently injuring bystanders, and the bottle or cans used to launch them often explode, showering fragments of glass or metal in all directions.
- Sparklers burn at 1,800 F (hot enough to melt gold) and cause third degree burns.
- The typical victim is a male, ages 13-15, at home with a group of friends, no adults present. The typical firework is a bottle rocket, which leads to severe eye damage. The treatment is immediate surgical intervention; multiple follow-up surgeries. The probable outcome: permanent visual loss; frequently, loss of an eye.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology warns that fireworks related injuries are dangerous and provides these guidelines for fireworks
- Never handle fireworks without protective eyewear and ensure that all bystanders are also wearing eye protection.
- Never let young children play with fireworks of any type. If older children are permitted to handle fireworks, ensure they are closely supervised by an adult and wear protective eyewear.
- Clear the area of flammable materials and view fireworks from at least 500 feet away.
- Leave the lighting of professional-grade fireworks to trained pyrotechnicians.
For those who attend professional fireworks displays and/or live in communities surrounding the shows:
- Respect safety barriers at fireworks shows.
- Do not touch unexploded display (show) fireworks; instead, immediately contact local fire or police departments to help.
If an eye injury occurs, don’t touch or rub it, as this may cause even more damage. Also, don’t flush the eye out with water or attempt to put any ointment on it. Instead, cut out the bottom of a paper cup, place it around the eye, and immediately seek medical attention!