Leave fireworks to the pros

  • Written by Jeff Vorva


Don’t lose an eye on the 4th of July

People in the eye – and injured eye – business are flummoxed about the way people choose to protect their eyes.
As Independence Day celebrations are nearing in our area – the first fireworks show is tonight, Thursday, in Evergreen Park following a 6:30 p.m. parade and other activities – safety is a key.
The San Francisco-based American Academy of Ophthalmology conducted a survey and found that more people in the land of the red, white and blue will wear eye protection when cleaning the house than those who set off fireworks. Furthermore, a lot more Americans would let their kids play with fireworks than let them light a birthday cake.
Some of the highlights of the survey:
Almost three times as many people wear eye protection for housecleaning and home repair than for fireworks: Of those polled, 28 percent say they use eye protection such as goggles when cleaning with chemicals and 26 percent report wearing protective eyewear when doing home repairs such as plumbing or carpentry. Yet, only 10 percent say they wear protective eyewear when using fireworks, as recommended by the Academy.
Five times as many people say it’s OK to let kids play with sparklers/fireworks versus light candles: While only 11 percent say children age 5 to 10 should be allowed to light birthday candles, 54 percent say that it is OK for children that age to play with sparklers and other fireworks.
Many Americans report being injured or know people injured by fireworks: One-third of those polled have been injured or know someone that has been injured by fireworks, yet one in five still plan to use fireworks on Saturday.
According to the latest U.S. Consumer Protection Safety Commission report on fireworks injuries, more than 11,000 injuries occurred in 2013, with 1 in 6 fireworks injuries damaging the eyes.[1] The most severe eye injuries include ruptured eyeballs, chemical and thermal burns and corneal abrasions, all of which can permanently impact a person’s vision.
“We now keep an operating room open on call just to treat Fourth of July fireworks eye injuries, and unfortunately anticipate having to treat multiple ruptured globes as well as numerous thermal and chemical eye burns this year,” said Russell N. Van Gelder, M.D., Ph.D., president of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and chairman of the ophthalmology department at the University of Washington. “Many if not all of these fireworks eye injuries could be prevented if people more carefully consider the life-changing risks they’re taking by playing with fireworks.”
The Academy’s audio public service announcement, “It’s not worth the risk,” features Jameson Lamb, 19. The Chicago college student explains how he was blinded in his right eye by a Roman candle at age 16 and is now offering advice to others about fireworks safety. (30s PSA)
For more fireworks eye safety information from the American Academy of Ophthalmology, go to
Nearly 40 percent of fireworks injuries hurt children age 15 and under according to the 2014 fireworks injury report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. To help families educate their kids about fireworks safety, the academy has created a fun, child-friendly public service announcement featuring Suzy the Sparkler, Freddie the Firecracker and their friends, which could be found at
For those who do have an eye injury due to fireworks, the academy has these guidelines before seeking medical attention:
Do not rub, rinse or apply pressure to your eyes.
Do not remove any objects that are stuck in the eye.
Do not apply ointments or take any blood thinning pain medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen.
Finally, the academy recommends that people:
Attend a professional fireworks display rather than using fireworks at home.
Young children should never handle fireworks, including sparklers.
Those choosing to use fireworks at home should always wear protective eyewear even if watching as a spectator since many of those injured are bystanders.
Follow the fireworks laws for your region.