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Eye care experts urge parents to leave fireworks to pros | Health

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Eye care experts urge parents to leave fireworks to pros
Eye care experts urge parents to leave fireworks to pros

ATLANTA -- Thousands of Georgia parents are buying sparklers for their children this Fourth of July, thinking they are a safe way to celebrate. But, as a Georgia eye expert warns, sparklers heat up to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit -- hot enough to melt some metals -- and are the number one cause of fireworks injuries requiring trips to the emergency room.

Members of the Georgia Optometric Association are urging parents to leave all the fireworks to the professionals and avoid fireworks that may cause serious eye injuries when used inappropriately. Some of the most common fireworks injuries are eye abrasions, lacerations, contusions and foreign matter in the eye. The majority of these cases are related to the use of sparklers.

“Many families enjoy celebrating the Fourth of July with some sort of fireworks,” said Dr. Jeffrey S. Hackleman, president of the Georgia Optometric Association. “Sparklers look safe but, unfortunately, children are the frequent victims of injury from fireworks, particularly sparklers which are often handled at close distances.”

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2012, more than 5,000 consumers were treated in United States hospital emergency rooms due to fireworks- related injuries. About 1,000 consumers reported injuries involved sparklers and bottle rockets, fireworks that are frequently and incorrectly considered safe for young children.

To help prevent injury during fireworks season, the Georgia Optometric Association recommends the following tips to help protect and preserve eyesight during the Fourth of July holiday:

* Avoid purchasing sparklers

* Always have a garden hose or bucket of water nearby

* Discuss firework safety with children and teens prior to the Fourth of July holiday

* Do not allow kids to handle fireworks, and never leave them unsupervised near fireworks

* Wear protective eyewear when lighting and handling fireworks of any kind

* Store fireworks, matches and lighters in a secure place where children won’t find them

* Be aware of your surroundings and only light fireworks when family, friends and children are at a safe distance.

“If a firework-related eye injury does occur always seek immediate attention from an optometrist,” said Dr. Hackleman. “An optometrist will help ensure that the injury is treated correctly and they can monitor for potential future vision problems.”