“You’ll shoot your eye out, kid.”
This famous line from everyone’s favorite cranky mall Santa might have been the punchline to a joke, but childhood eye injuries are no laughing matter. Every year, children wind up in the emergency room with preventable injuries that can cause permanent damage to their vision.
In fact, according to a long-term study that was recently published in the journal Pediatrics, the frequency of this type of childhood eye injury has risen sharply over the course of the past two decades.
In this study, researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy reviewed emergency room data from 1990 to 2012 to identify trends in sports and recreation-related eye injuries among children. After analyzing the data, the researchers found that childhood eye injuries caused by BB, pellet and paintball guns increased by nearly 170 percent during this 22-year period. These non-powder guns were responsible for close to 11 percent of all the eye injuries identified in the study.
Eye injuries caused by non-powder guns were also more likely to be serious than injuries sustained during other activities like baseball and basketball. Nearly half of the eye injuries that were serious enough to require hospitalization were caused by BB, pellet or paintball guns.
With these troubling statistics in mind, the team at the Center for Injury Research and Policy is urging parents to make sure children have appropriate adult supervision anytime they’re using non-powder guns. Children should also be educated on proper rules of gun safety, and they should always “wear eye protection that meets the appropriate national standards when using non-powder guns.”
Together, we can all do our part to prevent eye injuries and protect our children’s vision for the future.