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Eye Health Center

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Bottle Rockets Hurt Kids

Study Shows Risks to Eyes of Youngsters Who Use Fireworks
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Jan. 10, 2010 -- Medical groups such as the American Academy of Ophthalmology have been warning for years about the dangers posed to children by fireworks, and now a new study warns that bottle rockets may be particularly dangerous.

It says bottle rockets can lead to permanent loss of vision, or at least significant and painful damage to young eyes.

The study says 1,400 of 9,200 fireworks-related admissions to emergency departments annually involve the eyes, and that a disproportionate number of the injuries are caused by bottle rockets.

Accidents Involving 10 Patients Studied

Mehnaz Kahn, MS, and colleagues at Vanderbilt University Medical Center studied injuries to 11 eyes in 10 patients, eight boys and two girls, age 18 or under who were seen in the Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital emergency room for eye injuries caused by bottle rockets between 2006 and 2009.

Eight of the 10 patients were hurt within a month of the Fourth of July. Eight of the patients were launching bottle rockets, and two were bystanders. None was wearing protective eye gear at the time of the accidents.

Of the injuries studied, seven caused defects in the outer surface of the cornea, six involved bleeding in front of the eye, two involved traumatic inflammation of the iris, and four caused a tear of the iris. Other injuries included bleeding into the inner eye’s vitreous fluid and cataracts.

The researchers say eight of the eyes required initial treatments such as surgical removal of the lens of the eye, or removal of damaged corneal tissue.

In three patients, additional procedures were required, including muscle surgery and placement of a new lens in one eye.

The most recent visual acuity was 20/30 or better in four eyes at follow-up, and 20/200 or worse in six eyes.

Bottle Rockets Can Cause Permanent Vision Loss

The researchers say permanent vision loss or damage was due mostly to traumatic maculopathy, or damage to the part of the retina that is responsible for central vision.

The authors say the study shows that bottle rockets “can cause significant” damage to the eyes of children and adolescents, cause youngsters avoidable surgery, and the loss of school or work days.

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