MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – No Fourth of July celebration is complete without fireworks, but the experts at the WVU Eye Institute want everyone to be sure to protect their eyes this Independence Day.
“At the WVU Eye Institute, we provide world-class care for patients with all kinds of eye problems. We would be thrilled if we could cross fireworks injuries off that list,” Ronald L. Gross, M.D., director of the WVU Eye Institute and chair of the WVU Department of Ophthalmology, said.
The best way to avoid a potentially blinding fireworks injury is by attending a professional public fireworks show rather than purchasing fireworks for home use. Those who attend professional fireworks displays should view them from at least 500 feet away and should not touch unexploded fireworks but rather contact local fire or police departments to help.
In states where it is legal to purchase consumer fireworks, young children should not be allowed to play with fireworks of any type, even sparklers, which burn at 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit, and bottle rockets, which can stray off course or throw shrapnel when they explode.
Prevent Blindness, a leading volunteer eye health and safety organization, recommends following these steps to preserve sight after a fireworks injury:
- Do not rub the eye. Rubbing the eye may increase bleeding or make the injury worse.
- Do not attempt to rinse out the eye. This can be even more damaging than rubbing.
- Do not apply pressure to the eye itself. Holding or taping a foam cup or the bottom of a juice carton to the eye are just two tips. Protecting the eye from further contact with any item is the goal.
- Do not stop for medicine. Over-the-counter pain relievers will not do much to relieve pain. Aspirin, which should never be given to children, and ibuprofen can thin the blood, increasing bleeding. Go to the nearest emergency department immediately.
- Do not apply ointment. Ointment, which may not be sterile, makes the area around the eye slippery and harder for the doctor to examine.
A nationally recognized center for vision care, research, education, and outreach, the WVU Eye Institute provides the full range of eye care under one roof — from routine exams to subspecialty medical and surgical treatment and laser vision correction. Each year, more than 35,000 patients from all over West Virginia and surrounding states receive treatment at the WVU Eye Institute.