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Bascom Palmer Eye Institute

Bascom Palmer Physicians Urge South Floridians to Protect their Eyes during July 4th Fireworks

Posted: 06.30.2011

Boys aged 13-15 sustain 75% of all firework-related eye injuries.

As July 4th celebrations often include fireworks and sometimes gunfire, the physicians of the University of Miami’s Bascom Palmer Eye Institute want everyone to enjoy the holiday without injury. The dangers of consumer fireworks include blindness, injuries to the face and hands and even death, according to Prevent Blindness America.

Of approximately 7,000 annual firework-related injuries, more than 2,000 involve the eyes.

  • 1/3 of those injuries are caused by consumer fireworks
  • 1/4 of those injuries result in permanent vision loss or blindness
  • 1 in 20 people lose all useful vision or require removal of the injured eye

Whether legal or illegal, use of consumer fireworks, such as bottle rockets and cone fountains, causes more than 30 percent of all firework-related injuries each year. According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, the most severe injuries are caused by cherry bombs and M-80s, which are federally banned from public sale.

  • Boys aged 13-15 sustain 75 percent of all firework-related eye injuries.
  • Fatal accidents from fireworks have claimed victims from the age of 4 months to 88 years.
  • Bottle rockets are the most dangerous type of consumer fireworks. The bottles or cans used to launch the rockets often explode, showering fragments of glass or metal.
  • Sparklers are the second highest cause of fireworks eye injuries requiring a trip to the emergency room. They can heat up to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit, hot enough to melt gold and cause severe corneal burns.
  • In 75% of the injuries, fireworks damaged the victim’s hands, head or face, and eyes.

“Fireworks is one of the most dangerous activities, in terms of eye injuries,” said Sonia Yoo, M.D., cornea and external disease specialist at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. “Each year hundreds of people end up with terrible eye injuries and burns from fireworks, and a lot of the victims are bystanders and children. There is just no way to safely use fireworks at home. Even sparklers can permanently damage the eye. The only safe way to see fireworks is to go to a professional fireworks show.”

Nearly 6,000 Americans spent part of their Fourth of July holiday in the emergency room in 2009 due to fireworks injuries, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Of those, fireworks caused an estimated 1,600 eye injuries. The injuries included contusions, lacerations and foreign bodies in the eye. Some injuries even caused permanent vision loss. According to the National Fire Protection Association, “safe and sane” fireworks cause more injuries than illegal fireworks, especially to preschool children. For children under the age of 5, half of the total injuries were from sparklers. Children ages 15 and younger make up a significant number of fireworks injuries, accounting for 39 percent.

Bascom Palmer Eye Institute of the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine has ranked the best eye hospital in the nation by U.S. News & World Report for the past seven consecutive years. Having earned an international reputation as one of the premier providers of eye care in the world, Bascom Palmer is also ranked #1 in patient care and #1 in residency training by Ophthalmology Times. As the largest ophthalmic care, research and educational facility in the southeastern United States, more than 250,000 patients with nearly every ophthalmic condition are treated each year and more than 12,000 surgeries are performed annually. Founded in 1962, Bascom Palmer has patient care facilities in Miami, Palm Beach Gardens, Naples, and Plantation, Florida. For additional information about Bascom Palmer p. 2 of 2

Eye Institute, contact Marla Bercuson, director of marketing, at (305) 326-6190 or mbercuson@med.miami.edu. Or, visit bascompalmer.org.