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Ophthalmologist says leave fireworks to the professionals this year

June 22, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS -- This year, leave the fireworks to the professionals, suggests Jennifer Eikenberry, M.D., a comprehensive ophthalmologist at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Eye Institute at the IU School of Medicine.

July is Fireworks Eye Safety Awareness Month, a time when the Indiana and American Academies of Ophthalmology urge adults to comply with fireworks safety rules. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 9,000 fireworks-related injuries occur each year. 

“Playing with fireworks can lead to head injuries, burns and eye injuries that could result in vision loss,” said Dr. Eikenberry, assistant professor of Clinical Ophthalmology. “Children are often given sparklers, and those devices can reach a temperature of 1,900 degrees Fahrenheit, hot enough to cause a third-degree burn.” 

The IAO says children age 15 or younger account for half of all fireworks injuries in the United States, with sparkers causing one third of those injuries. 

“Don’t let your fourth of July celebration be marred by a preventable injury that could cause long-term problems for your health and your vision,” said Dr. Eikenberry. “Too many celebrations come to an early end when a child or an adult has to be rushed to an emergency room with an injury caused by fireworks. It’s best to leave fireworks displays to the experts, and attend a professional display rather than a backyard version as these are potentially dangerous explosive devices.”

Eye injuries from fireworks could include cuts, burns, abrasions, retinal detachment, optic nerve damage, rupture of the eyeball, and complete blindness. This damage can be permanent, Dr. Eikenberry said. 

Dr. Eikenberry suggests following these tips for a safe Fourth of July celebration:

  • Do not allow children to play with fireworks, particularly sparklers
  • Leave the lighting of fireworks to a professional at a public display
  • View fireworks displays from a distance of at least 500 feet
  • Do not attempt to relight or handle any fireworks that have malfunctioned
  • Seek immediate help at an emergency room for an injury related to fireworks

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The Eugene and Marilyn Glick Eye Institute on the IU School of Medicine campus in Indianapolis
is home to the IU Health Ophthalmology Center and the Glick Eye Institute
Optical Services and Eyewear shop. The Glick Eye Institute also staffs eye
clinics at Wishard Hospital in Indianapolis, at Spring Mill Medical Building on
the north side of Indianapolis, at Franciscan St. Francis Hospital in
Mooresville and at Witham Health Services in Lebanon. Information about the
institute, faculty physicians and their specialties, and the research being
conducted is available at www.glick.iu.edu. For appointments,
call (317) 274-2020 or (877) 224-8393.

Tagged with: ophthalmology

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