With Independence Day approaching, fireworks are often considered a big part of the festivities for many families celebrating this holiday. However, these explosives come at a cost: thousands of men, women, and children are admitted to the emergency room with traumatic eye injuries in the two weeks leading up to Independence Day and afterward.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission released horrifying statistics in their 2016 Fireworks Annual Report, detailing the devastating breadth of damage that fireworks caused that year alone. In 2016, an estimated 11,000 fireworks-related injuries, 7,600 of which required emergency room intervention, occurred between June 18 and July 18. Of these injuries, children under the age of 15 accounted for 31% of total accidents.

Vision-threatening injuries to the eyes and face occurred 37% of the time, revealing eyes as one of the most vulnerable parts of the body during the Fourth of July time period. Since the eyes are susceptible to foreign matter entering the body, as well as burns, lacerations, and contusions, fireworks-related injuries directly threaten vision and eye health.

Yet, despite their potential for harm, fireworks are often not treated as explosives— explosives that can reach temperatures of up to 1,200˚F—, but as toys safe for children to use without supervision. To protect your family and friends from injury during Independence Day weekend, it is crucial to recognize the severity of injuries that can arise from fireworks, and abide by the following safety tips.

Fireworks Safety Tips

The American Academy of Ophthalmology emphasizes that the best way to avoid a potentially blinding injury is by attending a professional fireworks show rather than purchasing fireworks to use at home. Unfortunately, these explosives are still potentially dangerous, even when handled by professionals, so, if you plan to attend a community fireworks display, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends the following safety guidelines:

• Respect the safety barriers and view fireworks from at least 500 feet away.
• Leave unexploded fireworks on the ground and contact the local fire or police departments for their assistance.
• If exploded fireworks debris enters your eye, immediately contact the nearest emergency medical volunteers.

What to do for a Fireworks-Related Eye Injury

If an injury from fireworks occurs, remember:

• Seek medical help immediately.
• Do not rub, rinse, or apply pressure to the eye.
• Do not attempt to remove any foreign objects from the eye.
• Do not use blood-thinning pain medication or attempt to apply ointment to the injury.

The Fourth of July doesn’t have to be dangerous! With responsible planning, you and your family can safely enjoy a fireworks show and partake in holiday festivities without putting yourselves in harm’s way. If you want to learn more about eye safety and care, call us today at (518) 475-1515 to schedule an appointment. Our team at Cornea Consultants of Albany is dedicated to helping you maintain healthy, lifelong vision.

Dr. Robert Schultze
Dr. Robert Schultze
A Phi Beta Kappa graduate from the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Schultze received his medical degree from Temple University School of Medicine in 1994, where he was distinguished with the Lamport Biomedical Research Award. Upon completion of ophthalmology residency at Albany Medical College in 1998, Dr. Schultze elected to further his education with one additional year of specialty fellowship training in Cornea, External Disease and Refractive Surgery at the Albany Medical College. Dr. Schultze has been appointed Professor of Ophthalmology and Director of Cornea, Cataract, and Refractive Surgery at the Albany Medical Center Department of Ophthalmology where he teaches medical students, residents, and fellows the latest diagnostic and therapeutic techniques. He also serves as Ophthalmology Residency Program Director, Director of Medical Student Education in Ophthalmology, and Director of the Cornea Fellowship Program. Dr. Schultze is Medical Director and a founding partner of his medical practice, Cornea Consultants of Albany. He also serves as Medical Director of TLC Laser Eye Center as well as the Lions Eye Bank at Albany and has served on the Northeastern Association for the Blind at Albany’s Board of Directors.

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