For many children, each year, the holidays are interrupted by a trip to the hospital emergency room.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were more than 235,000 toy-related injuries treated in U.S. emergency rooms in 2008; nearly three quarters of those injured were children under age 15.
90% of these injuries were preventable. Unfortunately, each year some of these easily preventable injuries will result in blindness.
So, choose toys wisely. Prevent Blindness America recommends gift-givers follow these tips for choosing safe toys:
1) Look for toys that have the letters “ASTM.”
This means that the product meets the national safety standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials. (Many toy makers follow safety guidelines, some do not).
2) Inspect toys for sturdy construction.
Children’s toys should be durable and be able to with stand impact. (Shattering pieces are a recipe for disaster).
3) Store toys properly after play to avoid trips and falls onto sharp objects.
Check the lenses and frames of “dress-up” and sunglasses. Many less sturdy models can break resulting in an eye injury. Always avoid toys with sharp areas or rods. (Stay clear of toy weapons).
4) Avoid toys with flying objects or that shoot – especially BB guns and slingshots. (Toy guns are responsible for the largest amount of eye injuries in children).
5) Never give toys with small parts to young children. Young kids tend to put things in their mouths increasing the risk of choking.
6) Read directions carefully and follow suggested age levels to ensure the toy is appropriate for your child’s ability and age.
7) Explain the proper use of a toy to your child. A simple explanation of how not to use a toy and enforcing it prevents dangerous misuse of some toys.
Similar tips for a safe holiday season from the American Academy of Ophthalmology include:
- Avoid purchasing toys with sharp, protruding or projectile parts.
- Make sure children have appropriate supervision when playing with potentially hazardous toys or games that could cause injury.
- If you plan to give sports equipment, provide appropriate protective eyewear with polycarbonate lenses. Check with your local Eye M.D. to learn about protective gear recommended for your child’s sport.
- Check labels for age recommendations and be sure to select gifts that are appropriate for a child’s age and maturity.
- Keep toys that are made for older children away from younger children.
- The branches and needles of Christmas trees can be hazardous to the eyes, so be especially careful when untying your tree. The branches can burst forward, hitting and injuring your eyes. Glass ornaments should be hung out of a child’s reach to avoid potential injury.
IF EYE IS INJURED
If a child does sustain a cut or puncture of the eye or eyelid, knowing what to do could help to prevent vision loss: PBA lists the following instructions to help save valuable time.
1) DO NOT allow the child to rub the eye.
2) DO NOT try to remove an object that is stuck in the eye. (This could further damage delicate eye tissue) Cover the eye with a rigid shield without applying pressure. The bottom half of a paper cup can be used. See a doctor at once”.
Enjoy the holidays and keep these eye safety tips in mind while you finish your holiday shopping.