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Children's Health

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Collapsible Laundry Hampers May Pose Risk to Kids

Two reports show wires can pop out, threatening vision

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Dennis Thompson

HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, July 1 (HealthDay News) -- Collapsible laundry hampers can cause serious eye injuries to children if a sharp wire contained within the device breaks free, according to a new report.

The researchers documented the cases of two children, one 23 months old and the other 11 years old, who each suffered a puncture wound in one eye from a collapsible laundry hamper.

The devices collapse and then pop back into shape because they have embedded within them a flexible wire that winds around the outside of the cloth hamper.

"The wire has fabric holding it in place, and it's like a humongous spring," said study co-author Dr. Iris Kassem, an assistant professor of clinical ophthalmology at the University of Illinois at Chicago's School of Medicine. "When the fabric becomes frayed, the wire pops out and the end of the wire is very sharp."

The 11-year-old boy suffered a corneal laceration while placing clothes in a collapsible laundry hamper, according to the report. The wire mechanism within the hamper suddenly snapped up and struck his right eye, puncturing it.

The report said the 23-month-old girl received her injury after being poked in the eye from a wire protruding from a collapsible hamper.

Both patients came to the University of Illinois at Chicago Eye and Ear Infirmary for treatment within one year of each other.

The cases were detailed online July 1 and in the August print issue of the journal Pediatrics.

These types of penetrating eye injuries are uncommon but very serious, said Dr. Alon Kahana, an oculoplastic surgeon at the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center.

"The risk of vision [loss] is acute, and those patients require immediate evaluation in an emergency room," Kahana said. "Outcomes can be very good. There are some patients that end up with 20/20 vision, [but] there are some patients who end up with no vision at all."

In both reported cases, the children received prompt emergency treatment and, as a result, are expected to regain much of the sight in their injured eyes, Kassem said.

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