The Florida Society of Ophthalmology and the American Academy of Ophthalmology
urge the public to celebrate with an eye on safety this holiday season.
In the beloved holiday movie, A Christmas Story, Ralphie attempts to convince his parents and Santa that a Red Ryder BB gun is the perfect Christmas gift. They all reject his pleas with the same warning: “You’ll shoot your eye out.” While you may not literally shoot your eye out, a new study in Ophthalmology Retina – a journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology – shows that BB and pellet guns do unnecessarily blind children every year.
And, the number of eye injuries related to such nonpowder guns are increasing at an alarming rate. Another study published earlier this year showed an increase of almost 170 percent over the last 23 years. If toy guns are on your shopping list, the Florida Society of Ophthalmology and the American Academy of Ophthalmology urge you to also give the gift of protective eyewear. Protective eyewear and proper guidance make BB, pellet and paintball gun activities safer for children.
To prevent eye injuries, ophthalmologists – physicians who specialize in medical and surgical eye care – share the following tips.
- Buy the proper eye protection. Always wear eye protection that meets appropriate national standards when using nonpowder guns.
- Get a target. Have children shoot BB and pellet guns at paper or gel targets with a backstop to trap BBs or pellets.
- Educate children. Teach them proper safety precautions for handling and using non-powder guns.
- Be present. Ensure that there is always appropriate adult supervision.
- Know what to do (and what not to)if an eye injury occurs. Seek immediate medical attention from an ophthalmologist. As you wait for medical help, make sure to never to touch, rub, apply pressure, or try to remove any object stuck in the eye. If an eye injury occurs, follow these important care and treatment guidelines.
“Ophthalmologists see firsthand the devastating damage toy guns can inflict on the eyes; children are blinded,” said Dianna Seldomridge, MD, MBA, clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “The good news is, most of these injuries are avoidable. Protective eyewear and adult supervision make non-powder gun activities much safer for children. If you can’t resist the Ralphies in your life, buy protective eyewear.”
“Our children are our future and it is imperative that we work together to protect, to empower and to advocate for them and their safety. We must be champions for children in South Florida, nationally and globally in all aspects of their lives beyond eye health and vision alone,” said Luxme Hariharan, MD, MPH, Pediatric Ophthalmologist at Nicklaus Childrens Hospital. Dr. Hariharan has contributed extensively to international research and advocacy related to childhood blindness prevention and treatment of vision disorders, and serves as public relations chair for the Florida Society of Ophthalmology. “Children are amongst the most vulnerable communities that often cannot speak out for themselves. Therefore, It is our duty and honor as eye health professionals to advocate for every child to reach their full visual potential and beyond without the threat of unnecessarily losing their sight from a BB gun pellet,” she said.
To learn more ways to keep your eyes healthy, visit the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s EyeSmart® website.
About the American Academy of Ophthalmology
The American Academy of Ophthalmology is the world’s largest association of eye physicians and surgeons. A global community of 32,000 medical doctors, we protect sight and empower lives by setting the standards for ophthalmic education and advocating for our patients and the public. We innovate to advance our profession and to ensure the delivery of the highest-quality eye care. Our EyeSmart® program provides the public with the most trusted information about eye health. For more information, visit aao.org.
About the Florida Society of Ophthalmology
The Florida Society of Ophthalmology is the state’s leading advocate for providing Floridians the highest standard of eye care. The FSO’s mission is to promote and protect the medical specialty of ophthalmology through active participation in legislative advocacy and providing continuing medical education and responsible information to its members, physicians, and the citizens of Florida. Please visit mdeye.org for more information.