Fireworks are big business in the United States. The American Pyrotechnics Association estimated consumers spent $755 million on fireworks last year, and according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, fireworks are involved in an estimated 10,500 injuries treated annually in U.S. hospital emergency departments.
Nearly 400 people lose sight in one or both eyes due to fireworks injuries every year.
Ophthalmologists, including those at the University of Aalabama Birmingham Callahan Eye Hospital, hope that number will decrease.and are strongly urging the public to go to sponsored shows and let the professionals handle all the pyrotechnics.
But, eye doctors and surgeons also know that the advice will not be enough to stop everyone from playing with fireworks. In fact, the doctors at Callahan Eye Hospital already are anticipating and are ready for a busy Independence Day holiday, and they say the facility has a 24-hour emergency room and the ability to perform surgery relatively quickly.
“We have the equipment, the staff and the surgical backup to deal with any type of eye injury,” Jay McCollum, MD, an ophthalmologist and director of emergency services at the eye hospital, said. “We’re the only eye emergency room in the state of Alabama and one of only a handful in the country. We’re available 24/7, and if there is a question about an eye injury of any kind, we encourage people to come in and let us take a look.”
Ophthalmologists also urged that, if still planning to use fireworks, it’s best to follow some basic, common sense safety procedures to avoid injury, burns or blindness:
• Never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks
• Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully
• Never use bottle rockets
• Read and follow all manufacturers’ warnings and instructions
• Keep a source of water close by in case of fire or another mishap
• Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before using them
• Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly
• Never throw fireworks at another person
• Shoot fireworks on a clean, flat surface away from the house or flammable materials
If an eye injury from fireworks occurs, they recommend:
• Seek medical attention immediately
• Do not rub your eyes
• Do not rinse your eyes
• Do not apply pressure
• Do not remove any objects that are stuck in the eye
• Do not apply ointments or take any blood-thinning pain medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen
and, have a safe and happy 4th of July holiday.