When talking with your patients this Christmas about the toy guns and sports gear they’re buying for young nephews, nieces, kids and grandkids, it might be wise to remind them about the need to consider protective eyewear as well.
While no-one chooses gifts with the intent to cause harm, some popular children’s toys can cause serious eye injuries.
Top of the list are toy guns that shoot soft ‘bullets’, pellets or paintballs that have the potential to propel foreign objects into the sensitive tissues of the eye.
Common eye injuries from these toys include corneal abrasion, ocular hyphema, traumatic cataract and increased intraocular pressure.
But it’s not only guns and sports gear that can cause injury. RANZCO’s Professor Frank Martin AM warns that pretty much any toy can be a danger.
“Eye injuries from toys don’t happen all the time but I’ve seen injuries caused by Nerf guns, toy swords, lightsabers – anything that can poke an eye. Drum kits and xylophones can be problematic too – you see kids fighting over the sticks – pulling them away from each other and them using them to whack each other. I’ve seen the same type of injury caused from fighting over coloured pens and pencils. And last year, on Christmas Day, I looked after a little boy who had been riding his new tricycle in house. He ruptured his eye when he fell of the bike and fell against the sharp edge of an open cabinet door,” said Professor Martin.
“You can’t wrap a child in cotton wool, or not give them gifts – so it all comes down to supervision of the child rather than the toy. It’s also important to talk to children about the toys you give them – if it’s a Nerf Gun for instance, explain that it can cause injury and warn them to use it sensibly – otherwise you’ll confiscate it.
“In an ideal world, we would urge every child to wear eye protection when playing with toys like Nerf Guns – but even getting them to wear sunglasses is not easy, so the chances of eye protection are even slimmer,” said Professor Martin.
“What I would say is that any child who has a lazy eye should only be exposed to toys like Nerf Guns if they have protective eyewear – because if they suffer an injury to their good eye, they’re really in trouble.”
Tips for Eye Safe Toys
Avoid buying toys with sharp, protruding or projecting parts.
As a general rule, choose toys that are appropriate for your child’s age and abilities – keep toys made for older children away from younger children.
Make sure children are adequately supervised when playing with potentially hazardous toys or games
If you’re giving a gift such as a toy gun or sports equipment, include appropriate protective eyewear.