Ophthalmologists urge parents to beware of projectile-shooting toys that can cause serious eye injury and vision loss…

With the holiday gift-buying season in full swing and a slew of current movies and TV shows such as “The Hunger Games,” “The Walking Dead” and “Arrow” prominently featuring crossbows and quivers, the American Academy of Ophthalmology is urging parents and the public to avoid purchasing any projectile-shooting toys since they are known to cause traumatic eye injury and blindness.

Roughly 1 in 10 children’s eye injuries that end up in the ER are caused by toys, according to a 2014 study.[1] Overall, there were an estimated 256,700 toy-related injuries treated in emergency rooms nationwide in 2013, a report by the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission found.[2]

The American Academy of Ophthalmology advises parents to be cautious when choosing holiday gifts for young people and avoid those that launch projectiles, such as crossbows and BB guns. One toy crossbow that shoots darts more than 100 feet away landed on a list of most dangerous toys of 2014 for its potential to cause eye injury.[3] Plastic darts and arrows can scratch the eye, causing corneal abrasions, or in the case of pointed tips can puncture the eye and permanently damage a child’s vision. Injuries from airsoft, BB and paintball guns are quite common and include retinal detachment that can cause vision loss; pooling of blood in the front of the eye (ocular hyphema) that can block vision and increase the risk of glaucoma; and traumatic cataracts, which may require surgery to restore sight.

“People may view toy versions of bows and arrows as harmless, but even foam or plastic projectiles can potentially cause serious damage to a child’s eye if used at close range,” said Jane Edmond, M.D., a clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “With so many other options for gift giving, physicians recommend that parents consider safer alternatives. Nobody wants to end up in the emergency room over the holidays, especially due to an injury caused by a gift.”

Toy safety tips:

  • Avoid purchasing toys with sharp, protruding or projectile parts such as airsoft guns, BB guns and paintball guns, which can propel foreign objects into the sensitive tissue of the eye.
  • For laser toys, look for labels that include a compliance statement with 21 CFR Subchapter J to ensure the product meets the Code of Federal Regulations requirements for laser products, including power limitations.
  • When giving sports equipment, provide children with the appropriate protective eyewear with polycarbonate lenses, which are shatterproof.
  • Check labels for age recommendations to be sure to select gifts that are appropriate for a child’s age and maturity. Also, keep toys that are made for older children away from younger children.
  • Make sure children have appropriate adult supervision when playing with potentially hazardous toys or games that could cause an eye injury.

About the American Academy of Ophthalmology
The American Academy of Ophthalmology, headquartered in San Francisco, is the world’s largest association of eye physicians and surgeons, serving more than 32,000 members worldwide. The Academy’s mission is to advance the lifelong learning and professional interests of ophthalmologists to ensure that the public can obtain the best possible eye care. For more information, visit www.aao.org.

The Academy is also a leading provider of eye care information to the public. The Academy’s EyeSmart® program educates the public about the importance of eye health and empowers them to preserve healthy vision. EyeSmart provides the most trusted and medically accurate information about eye diseases, conditions and injuries. OjosSanos™ is the Spanish-language version of the program. Visit www.geteyesmart.org or www.ojossanos.org to learn more.

Related Links:
Guide to choosing eye safe toys
Pediatric Eye Injuries 2002-2010
[1] https://www.rimed.org/rimedicaljournal/2014/01/2014-01-44-contribution-chen.pdf
[2] http://www.cpsc.gov//Global/Research-and-Statistics/Injury-Statistics/Toys/ToyReport2013.pdf




A Message from Lori Schermerhorn,
VRC President/CEO

As another school year has begun, we again ask where the time has gone. I am sure our previous leaders also felt that way. How quickly 85 years have flown by. Our address has changed, the client’s needs have changed, our mission has changed, and so has our name. The things that have stayed the same for all of these years have been our commitment to the Berks County community and our passion to help those struggling with blindness or visual impairment and their loved ones.

Whether an educational session, one on one counseling, support groups, lunch bunch, socialization programs, vision screenings, health fairs, home visits, Spanish speaking sight loss support group and counseling, workshop employment, summer camp, or referrals to other agencies, our commitment is strong and true. We continue to look for other ways to help our community and to expand our services to meet the changing needs.

To continue celebrating our 85th anniversary, we have several events planned in October. We will host a yard sale on Saturday, October 11th from 7AM-1PM, our 3rd annual Harvest Fest and 2nd annual Run/ Walk for Sight will be on Saturday, October 18th with the Run/Walk beginning at 9AM and the Harvest Fest from 10AM to 2PM, and a joint fundraiser with Kutztown University with a Dine in the Dark program on Friday, October 24th. Please continue to check our website at www.vrcberks.org for more details on all of these events.

Thank you for your support of our agency. Here’s to our first 85 years and the upcoming 85!

Vision Resource Center provides programs and services to blind and visually impaired individuals in Berks County. Call 610-375-8407 for more information.  Make sure you like us on Facebook, too.