Yes, such an awareness month does exist, and it is very important.
It may come as a shock, but eye injuries are common during the holiday season. For this reason, Prevent Blindness, America’s oldest non-profit eye health and safety organization, has declared December as Safe Toys and Gifts Awareness Month.
The group encourages everyone to consider if the toys and gifts they’re giving are appropriate for the age, skills, and abilities of the children receiving them, especially for infants and children under age three.
We all remember those famous words from A Christmas Story when Ralphie asks for a BB Gun. Maybe the adults in Ralphie’s life were right.
According to Prevent Blindness, over 800,000 eye injuries occur annually, but 90% of them are preventable. So whether you are trimming the tree, dusting some Christmas cookies with powdered sugar, or shooting cans with an “official Red Ryder, carbine action, 200-shot, range model air rifle, with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time,” here are some eye safety tips that will help you this holiday season.
Trim the Tree Safely
According to CNBC.com, Christmas tree sales are up 29% so far this December, and whether it’s because of the complexities of the year or a simple rise in trends, real trees have gained more popularity than they have had in years.
Everyone loves the luster and magical qualities of a Christmas tree, but tree decorating could be hazardous as far as your eyes are concerned. Whether the pine fragrance wafting through your home is real or radiating from an air freshener nestled in the branches of your faux tree, here are some tree-trimming eye safety tips to follow:
- If you have a real tree, wear protective eye gear when handling, cutting, and securing your tree. Without it, your eyes are vulnerable to irritation and injury from sap, dust, bark, and needles.
- When decorating with glass or fragile ornaments, make sure they are hung securely on each branch out of the reach of small children or pets. This includes ornaments with glitter or small sequins.
- Wash your hands after handling your decorations and your tree. Dust and debris could easily find their way into your eyes if you do not keep your hands clean.
Enjoy the Christmas Spirits… Responsibly
The Holiday season is the perfect time to pop a bottle of your favorite bubbly. Everyone enjoys their Christmas spirits, right?
Through all the merriment, it is important to remember that eye injuries from popped corks are way more common than you might think!
According to Dr. Monica L., an ophthalmologist and spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology, “uncontrolled champagne corks can lead to painful eye injuries and devastating vision loss. We don’t want anyone to end up ringing in the year on an ophthalmologist’s surgery table.” Here are a couple of safety tips when handling the holiday spirits:
- Always hold the cork down when you are removing the wire wrapped around it.
- Point the bottle away from yourself at a 45-degree angle, aim into a large open area away from fellow revelers and caged owls, and gently pull on the cork instead of pushing it out.
- Do not spray bubbly drinks into the faces of others. It may seem like harmless fun, but it can cause irritation and lasting damage if it gets into the eyes.
Have a Merry Little Emergency Room-Free Christmas
For many families, Christmas morning is the most magical day of the year. And for those exchanging gifts in observance of another wonderful holiday, it’s always best to put safety first.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that more than 250,000 toy-related injuries were treated in U.S. emergency rooms in 2017. While most toy-related eye injuries heal with time, some do result in permanent vision loss or, in rare circumstances, complete loss of the eye.
While the holidays are bound to look a little different in 2020, we want everyone to have a peaceful injury-free season! Here are some tips for protecting your children’s eyes this Christmas.
- Use caution while choosing gifts with projectiles such as airsoft guns, foam pellet guns, and, yes, real Daisy Red Ryder BB guns. Remember, even if the projectiles are soft, eyes are softer and easily damaged. If your child does play with these kinds of toys, make sure they are supervised and wearing eye protection.
- Be cautious of toys with sharp or protruding parts. If you have small children, you know how quickly a countertop or table corner can jump out in front of a little one whose attention is elsewhere. Toys with protruding parts can be just as dangerous, especially to the eye.
- For the athletes in your home, protective eyewear is just as important as protective body gear. It is always important to talk with your eye doctor to find out which eye protection is best for your child’s sport of choice.
- Always follow the recommended age ranges and restrictions on toys. These guidelines are placed on individual toys for a reason. Toys outside a recommended age may be more hazardous than you realize.
Despite having the best intentions and paying close attention, accidents do happen. If you experience an eye injury this holiday season, take the following steps immediately:
- Apply a cold compress, but do not put pressure on the eye.
- If you have debris in your eye, the best way to remove it is with a doctor-approved eyewash. If metal or glass has penetrated the eye, contact your optometrist immediately. If they cannot be reached go to your local emergency room.
- Contact your optometrist and discontinue the use of corrective lenses if you experience any pain or discomfort.
- In the event of an eye injury, visit your local emergency room and contact your optometrist. If the accident is severe, dial 911.
If you do not have an optometrist you see regularly, check out our network of preferred physicians for a list of qualified and experienced optometrists in your area.
The holiday season may have a different appearance this year, but it can still be wonderful to spend time with your immediate family and celebrate this magnificent season together.
Sure, it would be great to hold a huge celebration and count down the end of one of the most bizarre years in recent memory. Instead, let’s focus on ending 2020 safely with a holiday free from disaster.