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Eye injuries increase over holidays

Vision center warns parents to small children of toy dangers

Posted: October 24, 2009 9:41 a.m.
Updated: October 25, 2009 9:30 a.m.
 
LOS ANGELES (PRNewswire-USNewswire) -- Parents should take extra care in selecting toys for young children and supervising their play during the holidays, according to a leading eye surgeon.

According to Dr. Mark Borchert, director, The Vision Center at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, certain toys, such as BB guns, pose a particular danger for young children. "While a BB gun pellet may not break the skin of a young child, it can puncture his eye very easily. Unfortunately, every Christmas I see young children in our emergency room who have had an eye destroyed by a BB pellet."

The eye surgeon said parents with young children should avoid toys that shoot projectiles, have parts that fly off or can be shattered into sharp pieces. He added that scissors, rubber bands and deflated balloons -- often left out at holiday time -- should be collected, since they can be dangerous in the hands of younger children. It also is a good idea to explain to a child how a new toy is properly used and to promptly throw away broken toys.

The Consumer Products and Safety Commission reports that more than 230,000 toy-related injuries are treated at U.S. emergency rooms annually. Of those injured, approximately one third were under the age of five, and three quarters were under the age of 15. More than 45 percent of injuries were to the head and face.

Dr. Borchert noted that during busy holiday times, young children are at higher risk for injuring their eyes because they often have less adult supervision.

"If you are hosting young children in your home, be sure to get furniture corner protectors for tables, cabinets and windowsills. Young children are prone to falling into low-lying objects," he added.

If you suspect your child has suffered an eye injury look for these symptoms:

* There is blood in the clear part of the eye
* Your child has obvious pain or trouble seeing
* One eye does not move as well as the other
* The eye has an unusual pupil size or shape.

 

If your child's eye is injured, he should be seen immediately by your family physician or an emergency room doctor. A physician should use an ophthalmoscope to look inside the eye to check for damage that may not be readily apparent. Corneal abrasion, bleeding in the eye, damage to the lens, retina or even optic nerve, are all possible depending on the type of blow the eye receives.

If necessary, the child should be seen by a pediatric ophthalmologist. A child under the age of five is at increased risk of permanent loss of vision from eye injury because the immature brain may lose the ability to see even if the eye is repaired.

 

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