By Dr Au Eong Kah Guan, Medical Director and Senior Consultant Ophthalmologist, International Eye Cataract Retina Centre at Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre and Farrer Park Medical Centre, Singapore
Each month, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recognises one or more observances dedicated to raising awareness about eye health topics. December is Safe Toys and Celebrations Month.
With the holiday shopping season now in full swing, International Eye Cataract Retina Centre joins the American Academy of Ophthalmology in reminding the public of certain safety guidelines when choosing the perfect gifts for children. A number of studies show that some popular toy types are commonly associated with childhood eye injuries. These include toy guns and other toys that shoot projectiles, high-powered lasers and sports equipment.
Too often, accidents involving children and toys occur and may result in eye injuries. Each year, thousands of children age 14 and younger suffer serious eye injuries and even blindness from toys. Parents are encouraged to follow the following tips when shopping for toys this holiday season.
- Beware of toy guns and other projectile toys. Foreign objects can easily propel into the sensitive tissue of the eye.
- Avoid purchasing toys with sharp, protruding or rigid points, spikes, rods or dangerous edges. Devastating injuries can occur when these come in contact with the eye.
- Never allow children to play with high-powered laser pointers. A number of recent reports show that children have sustained serious eye injuries by playing with high-powered lasers (between 1500 and 6000 milliwatts). Over the years, these lasers have become increasingly more powerful, with enough potential to cause severe retinal damage with just seconds of laser exposure to the eye. The US Food and Drug Administration advises the public to never aim or shine a laser pointer at anyone and to not buy laser pointers for children.
A laser pointer is not a toy and children should never play with laser pointers
- Read labels for age recommendations before you buy. To select appropriate gifts suited for a child’s age, look for and follow the age recommendations and instructions about proper assembly, use and supervision.
- Don’t just give presents. Make sure to be present. Always make sure an adult is supervising when children are playing with potentially hazardous toys or games that could cause an eye injury.
Show children how to use their toys safely and keep an eye on them when they play
- Know what to do (and what not to). If someone you know experiences an eye injury, seek immediate medical attention from an eye specialist. As you wait for medical help, make sure to never touch, rub, apply pressure, or try to remove any object stuck in the eye.
Don’t let an eye injury ruin your child’s holiday season. Be wary that even seemingly safe toys can sometimes cause devastating eye injuries.