Last updated on April 16, 2014 at 7:44 EDT

Ophthalmologists Warn 4th of July Partiers: Avoid Handling Potentially Blinding Fireworks and Even Innocent Looking Sparklers

June 21, 2012

Eyes Rank High for Most Frequent, Devastating Injuries

PHILADELPHIA, June 21, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Fireworks can leave you blind or disfigured. They can cause everything from excruciating burns on your cornea to a complete rupture of the eyeball to retinal detachments, eye muscle damage, permanent scarring and traumatic cataracts. And, most importantly, these injuries can almost always be avoided.

21-year-old Thomas Eldershaw suffered devastating injuries to his eye and face from handling a mortar at a 4th of July, 2010 celebration and is available to share his gripping story. Now, fully recovered and fitted with a prosthetic eye, he is speaking out in hopes of preventing other potential victims from enduring the same unnecessary pain and trauma he experienced from these all too common accidents. Graphic photos of his injuries are also available.

Ophthalmologists at Wills Eye Institute in Philadelphia are preparing again for what is expected to be the busiest time of the year for emergency room visits due to fireworks injuries. Wills Eye Institute has the region’s only emergency care eye center. Eye emergencies range from infections to trauma and if untreated, can lead to visual loss or other health problems. The region’s only around-the-clock, state-of-the-art emergency care facility is open every day and has a full staff.

In the most recent statistical data, (July of 2010) fireworks sent over 8,600 people nationwide to emergency rooms with injuries, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Nearly 20% of those injuries were eye related. Most of them were male victims. “The public needs to know that even small sparklers can cause devastating eye injuries and burns,” said Julia A. Haller, MD, ophthalmologist-in-chief at Wills Eye. “When they burn at 2,000 degrees, these innocent looking sparklers or other small fireworks can quickly damage your eyesight and forever change your life,” she added.

Wills Eye Institute urges people to keep a safe distance from fireworks – staying at least 500 feet away — to not touch unexploded fireworks, but, instead contact your local police or fire department, to wear appropriate eye protection when in doubt, and to seek medical help immediately if you are injured.

Wills Eye Institute is a global leader in ophthalmology. To learn more, please visit www.willseye.org.

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SOURCE Wills Eye Institute

Source: PR Newswire