By Mark Siegel, MD, FAAO
Many of us remember the famous line from the much-loved movie “A Christmas Story.” Ralphie sets out to convince the world that a Red Ryder BB gun is the perfect gift. “You’ll shoot your eye out” was the response he got from his parents, teacher and even Santa Claus. This line is one of the most memorable quotes from this Christmas classic that we’ve all heard repeatedly during our childhood.
Unfortunately, it comes true for too many people. As an ophthalmologist, I’ve seen about every ocular injury imaginable and I’ve witnessed the dire visual consequences. Toys, including some seemingly innocent ones, and sporting equipment are responsible for thousands of eye injuries to children every year. This is why I’m urging our community to purchase safe toys and gifts this year.
When choosing gifts, select toys and gifts appropriate for a child’s age and maturity level. Avoid toys with sharp protruding parts like paint or pellet guns, rifles and darts. If you are giving sports equipment, be sure to include appropriate protective gear, such as helmets, facemasks or goggles. These gifts can reduce eye injuries by 90 percent.
Christmas tree branches and needles also can be hazardous to eyes, so be especially careful when untying or decorating your tree. The branches can quickly burst forward, injuring your eyes. Hang all glass ornaments out of a child’s reach to avoid any potential harm.
Celebrating the New Year ushers in the excitement to include fireworks. Schedule your holiday to attend professional fireworks displays. Never allow children to play with fireworks or sparklers because there is no safe way to handle them.
Even opening champagne can be dangerous. Be sure corks are pointed away when opening a bottle. Prevent the cork from popping off uncontrollably by covering it with a towel and slowly turning it with a slight upward pull. It’s important to keep the bottle cold; sparkling wine should be chilled at least 45 degrees Fahrenheit before opening.
Have a great holiday season and remember to celebrate responsibly. If you experience any eye injuries, seek medical attention promptly.
Happy Holidays from Dr. Siegel and Sea Island Ophthalmology — for more than 40 years your truly local premier provider of medical and surgical eye care in Beaufort County, 24-7.
Dr. Siegel is the Medical Director of Sea Island Ophthalmology, www.seaislandophthalmology.com.