Three ways to keep your kids' eyes safe: Chicago doctors share tips


Bottle rockets are a summertime favorite, but they're also a major cause of kids' eye injuries. Keep an eye out for these and other potential vision dangers.



More than one third of the estimated 40,000 sports-related eye injuries that occur each year happen to children.

"Eye injuries are one of the leading causes of visual impairment in children," says Dr. Alberto Martinez of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. "The injuries range from abrasions of the cornea and bruises of the lids to internal eye injuries, such as retinal detachments and internal bleeding. Unfortunately, some of these young athletes end up with permanent vision loss and blindness."

Martinez and the AAO recommend all children and adult athletes wear appropriate, sport-specific protective eyewear, especially for sports that involve small balls at high velocity.

Polycarbonate lenses can withstand the impact of a projectile traveling at 90 miles per hour and offer the best protection. Many children's sports leagues don't require protective eyewear, so it's up to parents to exercise caution.

"Parents also can set a good example by wearing eye protection when playing sports," says Martinez.


Aerosol spray cans

Children make up more than half of emergency room visits for eye injuries caused by aerosol spray cans, according to a study of emergency room data from 1997 to 2009 by Brown University. About 5,927 children 18 and younger were treated, with children under 5 the most likely to be injured.

Damage to the eyes included significant irritation, chemical burns, or scratches and bruises on the eyeball. Spray paint was the most common, followed by personal hygiene products such as hairspray, then cleaning products and bug sprays. Pepper spray injuries were very rare, but in every incident the victim was a child. More than 70 percent of the cases occurred in the home. As with all chemicals, keep aerosol sprays locked up or out of reach, say the researchers.


Bottle rockets

They're fun to launch, but bottle rockets can cause serious and permanent eye injury, warns a new study by Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.

"If children, adolescents and parents choose to launch bottle rockets, it is important for parents not only to supervise children and adolescents in the vicinity of bottle rockets but also to ensure that protective eyewear is being used," say the researchers.

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