Keep the fireworks fun in the sky and out of your eyes

UAB Callahan Eye ophthalmologist discusses fireworks eye safety precautions and tips in case of an eye injury this Independence Day.

Stream FireworksFireworks are big business in the United States, and Independence Day are their time to shine. However, nearly 400 people lose sight in one or both eyes due to fireworks injuries every year.  

Unfortunately, many of these injuries occur in children between 10 and 18 years of age. Bottle rockets and roman candles are the most common fireworks involved, due to the unpredictability of their trajectories.

While ophthalmologists at the UAB Callahan Eye Hospital hope that number will decrease, they know they will be busy come July 4.

“I’ve seen too many injuries related to fireworks, and many of these occur in children and innocent bystanders, resulting in permanent vision loss,” said John Owen, M.D., medical director of the UAB Callahan Eye Hospital Emergency Department. “The safest route is to leave the fireworks to the professionals and attend a public display, like Birmingham’s Thunder on the Mountain at Vulcan Park. If you choose to use fireworks yourself, it is important to take safety precautions and know what to do in case of an injury.”

inside Fireworks Eye Safety 2022 Infographic 2Click to enlarge.Owen suggests following these safety procedures to avoid injury, burns or blindness:

  • Always use adult supervision. Never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks.
  • Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
  • Never use bottle rockets.
  • Read and follow all manufacturers’ warnings and instructions.
  • Keep a source of water close by in case of fire or another mishap.
  • Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before using them.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
  • Never throw fireworks at another person.
  • Shoot fireworks on a clean, flat surface away from houses or flammable materials.

If an eye injury from fireworks occurs, remember:

  • Seek medical attention immediately.
  • Do not rub your eyes.
  • Do not rinse your eyes.
  • Do not apply pressure.
  • Do not remove any objects that are stuck in the eye.
  • Do not apply ointments or take any blood-thinning pain medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen.

UAB Callahan Eye team is ready with a 24-hour emergency room and the ability to perform surgery relatively quickly. To schedule an appointment, patients can call or text 844-UAB-EYES.

If an injury occurs, the UAB Callahan Eye team is ready with a 24-hour emergency room and the ability to perform surgery, if needed, in a timely fashion.

“We have the equipment, the staff and the surgical backup to deal with any type of eye injury,” Owen said. “We’re the only eye emergency room in the state of Alabama and one of only a handful in the country. We’re available 24/7, and if there is a question about an eye injury of any kind, we encourage people to come in and let us take a look.”