With the holidays fast approaching, shopping for toys is a past-time many parents are only too familiar with. Choosing the perfect gift for a child is a difficult task in itself, but what parents may forget to consider during the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping is the eye safety of certain toys for their children.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that at least a quarter million children are involved in toy-related accidents every year, many of which result in eye injuries and even blindness (1) . A comforting thought for parents is that they can help to prevent these injuries by keeping several safety measures in mind when purchasing new toys.
The simplest way to prevent toy-related eye injuries is to avoid buying toys that pose a high risk to children, as well as following manufacturers’ age recommendations. The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) also sets national standards for the safety of products, so parents can look out for ASTM labeling on toys they wish to purchase (2) . For cases where the child kicks and screams and demands a high risk item, parents should instruct their children to follow simple safety practices. The following list includes popular toys that require special consideration or eye protection:
1. Toy guns that shoot any projectiles, including darts, water, or arrows. Eye injuries that can occur as a result of these toys include corneal abrasions and blunt trauma, especially when used indoors or in close range. (Examples: Newisland Big League Blaster Gun with Foam Darts and Dartboard, Nerf N-Strike Elite Strongarm Blaster).
2. Chemistry and woodworking kits. These can be great gifts for kids, but without the
proper precautions, they can sustain foreign body injuries and chemical splashes to their
eyes. To better avoid these events, parents should also include well-fitting,
polycarbonate (impact-resistant) goggles to be worn at all times with these activities.
3. Any sports items for: hockey, soccer, paintball, tennis, etc. Blunt force trauma to the
eye, including serious orbital fractures, are not uncommon in the realm of sports. It is
likely that children will get involved in sports at an early age, and polycarbonate
(shatter-resistant) goggles are a means of first-line eye protection for active children.
Prescription goggles are especially crucial for children who require glasses to see well.
Parents can have their children fitted into appropriate pairs by their local optometrist or
4. Polymer clay for modeling. While not especially harmful to the eyes, clay products can
cause eye irritation and itching if not handled properly. Children can easily transfer clay
residue to their eyes, potentially resulting in an allergic reaction. A simple way parents
can encourage healthy eye practices with their children is to instruct and remind them to
not touch their face or eyes while using clay products and to properly wash their hands
with soap and warm water after use.
In the case that an eye injury occurs, parents should promptly contact their primary eye care provider. Parents should avoid treating or removing ocular foreign bodies without first seeking medical attention. Only in the event of a chemical splash, should parents immediately begin flushing eyes with water.
(1). Y.Tu, “Toy-Related Deaths and Injuries, Calendar Year 2014,” CPSC, November 2015.
(2). Pagan-Duran, B, “Children’s Eye Injuries: Prevention and Care,” AAO, March 2016.