Eye Injuries on the 4th of July

July 4, 2017 — by William Goldstein
Tags: Eye Injury 4th Of July July 4th Eye Health

It's Independence Day! The 4th of July is an annual celebration in the United States, and Michigan has some of the best traditions and displays to celebrate. When it comes to July 4th festivities, there is no shortage in Michigan.

Some new laws in Michigan in the last few years have allowed more sophisticated and elaborate firework shows, and you don't need a license or any sort of training to shoot off the fireworks. But it is important to remember that fireworks are actually explosives, and can cause significant damage or injury when they explode. The eyes are very delicate, and when exposed to these, can have severe, vision threatening injury.

Here is a short list of injuries that can occur to the eyes:

  • Burns: Heat and flame are involved in fireworks displays. The heat and the explosions can cause minor burns where the eyelashes and eyebrows are damaged, but they grow back. It is much more serious if the skin of the eyelids or the eyeballs themselves are damaged. If the cornea, which is the 'front window' of the eye is burned, it will no longer be clear. When it is cloudy light cannot get through, and patients may not be able to see anything.
  • Corneal abrasions: Fireworks may cause a scratch on the front of the eye. While painful, these generally heal very quickly with proper treatment
  • Foreign body: Fragments from the fireworks can get stuck on the eye, and if not immediately rinsed off, can cause pain and damage to the eye. Occasionally, a patient may not be able to rinse them out, and a doctor needs to remove them with a microscope. If the fragments hit the eye hard enough, they can enter the eye, in which case surgery will be needed to remove them.
  • Ruptured globe: It is possible for the eye to sustaing a cut or break where the eye is actually ruptured. This causes a major problem, requires surgery and likely results in loss of vision.

It is important to take some precautions when firing off fireworks this 4th of July Holiday. Children should certainly be kept well away from the area where the launch of the fireworks is occurring. Children should be closely supervised, even when using the more 'benign' devices such as sparklers. If you are firing off any type of explosives or flying fireworks, make sure the fuses are long enough to allow you to get clear before it goes off. Of course, making sure that the launched items are pointed away from houses or other flammables is important. Protective eyewear is a great idea too.

Celebrate, have fun, and PLEASE keep it safe this holiday!!