By Mark Siegel, MD, FAAO
The holidays are a favorite time for Americans to shoot fireworks. Yet mishaps with fireworks could make the holiday memorable for all the wrong reasons.
Each year, thousands of Americans are injured using fireworks, and 1,300 people injure their eyes. Eye injuries from fireworks include cuts, burns, abrasions, retinal detachment, optic nerve damage, rupture of the eyeball, and complete blindness. This damage is often permanent.
Young children and teenagers account for more than half of all fireworks injuries in the United States. In one memorable case, a six-year-old boy found an M-80 firework in his home and lit it with a barbecue lighter. The explosion resulted in a traumatic injury that impacted the boy’s throat, face and eyes. His parents called 911 for help and his eye injuries required an immediate cornea transplant and lens replacement, and he has undergone several additional eye surgeries since then with permanently reduced vision.
Our eyes are very delicate, and you only get two of them, so a fireworks accident can be truly devastating. Unfortunately, many Americans get caught up in the excitement of the holiday, and forget that fireworks are also dangerous explosives. Children are particularly vulnerable to fireworks hazards.