While parents of young children often think of how a child might swallow certain toys when buying them and other safety features, one consideration that is often forgotten is eye safety. It is of course a very vital organ to protect, but it is often not stressed when it comes to shopping for toys. As a result, nearly half of toy-related injuries, numbering in the hundreds of thousands per year in the United States, affect the head and face including the eyes. These daunting statistics have even prompted the American Academy of Ophthalmology to put out information on being smart when it comes to toys and the eyes.
Some of the tips issued by this laudable organization include avoiding toys with sharp protruding or projectile parts. At times this is common sense- for example with toys like nerf guns and bb guns. In other cases, it might not be so obvious- for example with a ball and paddle. Either way, parents should remain cognizant of the potential safety hazards with any new toy and if they think their child is responsible enough for the toy, they should also make sure the child is made aware of the risks and also the precautions he or she should take to avoid injury. For toys with projectiles this could mean safety goggles and other protective eyewear.
An area that is often forgotten when it comes to eyewear is sports. With balls flying at potentially fast speeds, it is important to make sure a kid remains properly protected. Again, things like goggles can come in handy here.
One of the important general tips when it comes to eye protection and toys is to make sure that parents read the labels of any new toys to be fully aware of the risks. It is also important to note the age recommendations that come with toys and to make sure that children play with toys that are appropriate for their age.
Should an eye injury occur, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible as quick treatment is the best solution to avoiding long-term damage or disability. An ophthalmologist is the optimal person to see in these cases as they are medical doctors who have specialized in eyecare. Your local optometrist may not have the same depth of knowledge to help with many issues and in many states only ophthalmologists can conduct surgery, if that is necessary. One thing to remember is that ophthalmologists are a specialty and depending on the insurance plan may require referral- so in many cases taking a child to the emergency room or if readily available calling the primary care physician for help (only in non-urgent cases) may be the best first often.
Overall, it is important to raise awareness of eye safety to both parents and children in order to reduce what are often avoidable accidents that can have dire consequences for young people and affect the rest of their lives. From buying toys to really any other decision made for a child, eye care should be stressed as part of a holistic wellness approach.
Image credit: Igor Yaruta