LITTLE ROCK – Every year, dozens of Arkansans are rushed to the emergency room for eye injuries caused by fireworks. Ophthalmologists – physicians who specialize in medical and surgical eye care – treat thousands of patients who suffer a range of fireworks-related injuries, from cuts and bruises to damaged corneas, retinas, and ruptured eyeballs. Many people believe that consumer fireworks are safe, but the truth is that most injuries are caused by legal fireworks parents buy for their children. This includes fireworks such as sparklers, firecrackers, bottle rockets, and Roman candles.

To help reduce the number of potentially blinding fireworks accidents this holiday, Safe Surgery Arkansas is sharing these tips:

Wear protective eyewear when igniting fireworks: Ophthalmologists recommend that every household have at least one pair of ANSI-approved protective eyewear. Stop by any hardware store and pick up some safety glasses for the entire family.

Don’t pick up duds and misfires: Keep a hose and buckets of water on hand for duds and misfires. Soak the dud from a distance with a hose or a bucket of water. Pick it up with a shovel and fully submerge it in a bucket of water to ensure it’s safe for disposal.

Keep a safe distance: Bystanders are injured by fireworks as often as the operator.

Supervise children closely: Sparklers seem like harmless fun for the kids, but they are responsible for about 1,400 eye injuries each year across the country. Even those tiny poppers or snappers can pose dangers.

“Consumer fireworks, grilling, and apple pie are in our Fourth of July celebration fabric, but we must remember to respect the danger fireworks present if used improperly or carelessly,” said Dr. Laurie Barber, chairman of Safe Surgery Arkansas. “If you experience an eye injury as a result of fireworks, you should seek medical attention immediately and consult your ophthalmologist as soon as possible.”

In order to minimize the damage to the eye after a fireworks accident, ophthalmologists recommend the following:

Seek medical attention immediately.

*Do not rub the eye. Rubbing may make the injury worse.

*Do not attempt to rinse the eye.

*Do not apply pressure to the eye.

*Do not remove objects from the eye.

*Do not apply ointments or take pain medications before seeking medical help.