Toys, decorations and celebration are all part of the holiday season; but a popgun or a popped cork can sometimes result in a serious eye injury.
“Children receive all sorts of presents that are potentially unsafe for their eyes during the holidays,” comments Lawrence V. Najarian, M.D., a board-certified ophthalmologist with Bedminster Eye and Laser Center, P.A. and a faculty member of both New York University and New York Eye and Ear Infirmary. “These include innocuous-appearing toys such as a popgun or a paddleball set.”
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were an estimated 251,700 toy-related injuries treated in U.S. emergency rooms in 2010. Forty-six percent of those injuries occurred to the head and face area (head, face, eye, mouth, and ear).
When purchasing toys this holiday season, Dr. Najarian advises:
- Only purchase age-appropriate toys.
- Avoid projectile toys such as darts, bows and arrows, and missile-firing toys.
- Look for toys marked with "ASTM", which means the product meets the national safety standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials.
- If you plan to give sports equipment, provide appropriate protective gear, such as helmets or protective eyewear with polycarbonate lenses.
Adults should also safeguard their eyes when putting up trees and holiday decorations, as well as when opening champagne bottles, Dr. Najarian points out.
“Getting poked in the eye by a pine needle or getting hit in the eye with a champagne cork can result in a trip to the emergency room,” says Dr. Najarian. “A cork can fly up to 50 miles per hour as it leaves the bottle. Anything that travels with such momentum can have a devastating impact if it strikes your eye.”
Dr. Najarian offers these tips when opening a bottle of champagne:
- Chill the champagne to at least 45 degrees Fahrenheit before opening. The cork of a warm bottle is more likely to pop unexpectedly.
- Don’t shake the bottle. Shaking increases your chances of eye injury.
- To open the bottle safely, hold down the cork with the palm of your hand while removing the wire hood. Point the bottle at a 45-degree angle away from yourself and from any bystanders.
- Place a towel over the entire top of the bottle and grasp the cork.
- Keep the bottle at a 45-degree angle as you slowly and firmly twist the bottle while holding the cork to break the seal. Continue to hold the cork while twisting the bottle until the cork is almost out of the neck. Counter the force of the cork using slight downward pressure just as the cork breaks free from the bottle.
For more eye safety and health tips, visit the American Academy of Ophthalmology website: