For obvious reasons, December is officially National Safe Toys and Gifts Month. Unfortunately, as your children’s or grandchildren’s wish lists grow longer, so do the list of product recalls and hazardous toys. Some are pulled off the shelves, others are left to the discretion of parents to use as directed.
Eye injuries are a sad reality of the holiday season, as many of these presents will unintentionally end up accompanying a trip to the eye doctor or ER. The following list can help you decide which toys and gifts to monitor more closely, which to wait on until a more appropriate age, and which to avoid altogether.
- Toy Weapons and Guns
Toy weapons, especially BB guns and pellet guns, are infamous for making parents nervous. And for good reason: each year, thousands of eye injuries are caused by stray bullets. Bullets are not the only weapons that should be used with caution, however, as slingshots and swords also cause their fair share of accidents.
2. Laser lights
Although the first laser pointer was invented in 1960, their popularity soared in the last couple decades as they hit shelves for the average consumer. During that time, it has also been confirmed that laser lights pointed at the eye can cause permanent retina damage.
3. Water Balloons/Water Guns
While perhaps the least suspect of toys when considering eye safety, water toys are actually capable of a lot of damage. When high-impact splashes or streams of water are directed toward the eye, it can cause retinal detachment or even blindness.
4. Silly String in Aerosol Cans
Silly string contains chemicals that, when coming into contact with the eye, cause immediate irritation, pink eye or other infections. This is especially true when sprayed at close range.
5. Any Device with a Screen
No kid wants to hear about the dangers of their new video game, tablet, or smartphone. But eye health is another reason to add to the list of monitoring your child’s screen-time.
Studies are unable to keep up with the onslaught of children’s technology, however, it is known that staring at bright screens causes digital eye strain. Symptoms of digital eye strain include dry eyes, headaches, red eyes, and itchy eyes. And while we have yet to see all the longterm effects of hours of screens for kids, it is also believed that it contributes to myopia, or nearsightedness.
Eye doctors recommend the 20-20-20 rule, when it comes to devices: for every twenty minutes spent in front of a screen, take at least a twenty-second break to look at something at least twenty feet away.
Of course, there are plenty of other toys that should be regarded with caution, this Christmas. Swords, wands and chemistry labs are also worthy of (dis)honorable mention, not surprisingly. And kids are continually coming up with creative ways to turn objects into weapons. In general, it’s best to keep YOUR eye out, if you’re wanting to keep theirs IN!
It should be noted that many of these injuries can simply be avoided by following instructions and age guidelines, as well as wearing protective eyewear when necessary.
So this year, have a merry Christmas and, “Don’t shoot your eye out!”