“You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out!”

Consider Eye Safety when Gifting Toys

If you’ve seen the classic holiday film A Christmas Story, you’ll remember how Ralphie goes outside Christmas morning to fire his wished-for gift, an “official Red Ryder” air rifle – as his mother warns “don’t shoot your eye out.” Of course, Ralphie is injured with his first shot, when a BB ricochets and hits him near his eye.

Ralphie’s mother was right, which is why, each December, the American Academy of Ophthalmology cautions adults to consider eye safety before buying toys.

Any toy can cause eye injury if misused or age-inappropriate, but eyes are particularly vulnerable to injuries from projectile-firing toys. Projectile toys include toy guns, slingshots, bow and arrow sets, dart guns, or any toy or toy component meant to be launched into the air.

Paintball, pellet, and airsoft guns are actually firearms that present a known hazard to the eyes. Some of the eye injuries from air guns include:

  • bleeding inside the eye (hyphema)
  • scrapes on the surface of the eye (corneal abrasion)
  • detached retina
  • dislocated lens inside the eye
  • rupture of the eyeball

Bottom line? The Academy’s guidance about projectile toys is that they are unsafe and you should think about buying something else. But if you do buy them, note that goggles and sunglasses are NOT safe for eye protection with air gun use. Choose protective eyewear that is rated for “Ballistic” (military) use by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

Our fondest wish this winter holiday season is for our patients and their families to stay safe and well and enjoy the celebrations. But if your child experiences an eye injury from any toy, don’t delay – contact your Atlantic Eye ophthalmologist right away.