No Fireworks Are Safe, Even “Innocent” Sparklers Can Cause Serious Eye Injuries

The South Carolina Society of Ophthalmology wants people to know the facts about fireworks so everyone has a fun and safe Fourth of July

Columbia, SC – June 2018 – Fireworks injuries cause approximately 10,000 visits to the emergency department each year, most of them involve children who suffer thousands of eye injuries.1 Though the most disabling injuries occur with illegal firecrackers, most injuries are caused by legal fireworks parents buy for their children, such as sparklers, firecrackers, bottle rockets, and Roman candles.

Every year, ophthalmologists – physicians who specialize in medical and surgical eye care – treat thousands of patients who suffer a range of fireworks-related injuries, from cuts and bruises to damaged corneas and ruptured eyeballs. To help reduce the number of potentially blinding fireworks accidents this holiday, the South Carolina Society of Ophthalmology joins the American Academy of Ophthalmology in working to share important information about fireworks injuries.

Here are five fireworks facts you should know:
1. Sparklers are NOT safe for young children. Sparklers burn at 1,800 degrees, hot enough to melt some metals. Sparklers are responsible for most of the injuries to children age 5 and younger.1
2. It’s not necessarily safer to view fireworks than it is to light or throw them. Bystanders are injured by fireworks as often as fireworks operators. Eye trauma contributes to an estimated 18 percent of the total number of fireworks injuries. 2
3. Consumer fireworks are not always safe. Sparklers and firecrackers each account for 1,400 injuries to the eyes. The parts of the body most often injured were hands and fingers (an estimated 36 percent); head, face, and ears (an estimated 19 percent); eyes (an estimated 19 percent); legs (an estimated 10 percent); and arms (an estimated 5 percent).1
4. It is not safe to pick up a firework after it has been lit. Even though it looks like a dud, it may not act like one. When Javonte McNair, 14, picked up a previously lit firework, it exploded, severing his hand and blasting hot debris into his eye, causing severe damage to his cornea.
5. The Fourth of July can still be a “blast” without using consumer fireworks. The Academy advises that the safest way to view fireworks is to watch a professional show.

If you experience a fireworks injury, ophthalmologists urge you to minimize the damage to the eye by doing the following:
• Seek medical attention immediately.
• Do not rub the eye. Rubbing may make the injury worse.
• Do not attempt to rinse the eye.
• Do not apply pressure to the eye.
• Do not remove objects from the eye,
• Do not apply ointments or take pain medications before seeking medical help.

To help ensure people get the facts about fireworks, the Academy also created an animated public service announcement titled “Fireworks: The Blinding Truth”. It encourages the public and media to view and share the PSA. Visit the Academy’s EyeSmart® website for more information about fireworks eye safety.

About the South Carolina Society of Ophthalmology
The South Carolina Society of Ophthalmology (“SCSO”) is one of the nation’s most recognized and nationally acclaimed State Eye Societies comprised of Eye Physicians and Surgeons specializing in the medical eye practice area of ophthalmology. The South Carolina Society has been recognized repeatedly for its Patient Advocacy programs and its State Physician Leadership, and its Executive Director has received multiple National Awards of Excellence from the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
The current president of the SCSO is Joseph R. Bishop, III, MD. Blake Myers, MD, of Jervey Eye Group serves as Chairman of the Legislative Committee and the Fellows Council with Malcom Edwards, MD, of Lancaster Eye serving as Secretary -Treasurer. John Wells, MD, of Palmetto Retina serves as Public Information Chair with Kurt Heitman serving as the national chair of the AAO State Affairs Committee and Todd Gwin, MD of Spartanburg serving as the State Councilor. Ron Scott, JD, MBA, M. Acct., serves as the Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer.

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.