Now Halloween is out the way, we look to the coming weekend to celebrate Guy Fawkes night, commonly known as bonfire or firework night. With shops stocked up full of firecrackers and fountains, it’s easy to forget about the precautions we need to take to protect our vision.
Fireworks are a spectacular show, and whilst larger public displays are advised as the safest place to enjoy them, many of us like to put on our own show with family and friends. However, with this comes greater risk of injury, as each year many people, including very young children are harmed.
How can fireworks damage our vision?
The eyes are one of the most injured areas of the body in firework accidents, with the extent of damage varying considerably. Here are some possible dangers your eyes are at risk to if a firework becomes out of control
- Corneal abrasions – or in other words, scratching the surface of your eye. According to WebMD, researchers found that scratches on the cornea from projected explosive material were the most common injury in their small study
- Traumatic cataract – this occurs as a result of blunt or penetrating ocular trauma, which causes clouding of the lens. This happens because the lens fibres in your eye have been disrupted
- Retinal detachment – The retina acts as the inner lining of the eye. When light enters the eye it lands on the retina, which converts the light to electrical impulses which are then carried to the brain by the optic nerve. A retinal detachment means that the retina becomes separated from the back of the eyeball. If it’s no longer attached, it cannot convert or transmit any signals, meaning a loss of vision, and sometimes permanent blindness.
What to do if your eye is injured by a firework on firework night?
If your eyes are injured because of a firework accident, it is important to follow these tips to ensure you are protecting your vision as much as possible:
- Do not rub or rinse your eyes
- Do not apply any pressure to your eyes
- Do not attempt to remove any object that may have become stuck in your eye
- Do not apply any creams to the affected area or take blood-thinning medication, such as ibuprofen
Precautions to take to prevent a firework injury to the eye
According to The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, you should follow these tips to keep your eyesight safe this firework night
- Keep fireworks in a closed box and use them one at a time
- Keep naked flames, cigarettes included well away from fireworks
- Once lit, you should never return to a firework
- When lighting a firework, keep it at arm’s length with a taper, standing well back and directing it well away from those watching the display
- Ensure fireworks are lit at least 18m away from houses, fences, trees and sheds, keeping an emergency bucket of water close in case of an accident
With that in mind, make sure your eyes are protected this Guy Fawkes night and enjoy the display!
Read more on eye health, laser eye surgery and vision, here