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SLUCare Ophthalmologist: Keep an Eye Out for Firework Injuries This Fourth of July

by Maggie Rotermund on 06/29/2021
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Maggie Rotermund
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Fourth of July festivities are upon us and for many, that means celebrating with fireworks. Before you light that sparkler or set off a smoke bomb, SLUCare ophthalmologist Gabriela Espinoza, M.D., says it is important to protect your eyes. 

Bicentennial Fireworks

Fireworks explode over the Mississippi River during the kickoff to SLU's Bicentennial. SLU file photo.

According to the latest Consumer Product Safety Commission report on fireworks, fireworks were involved in an estimated 9,100 injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments during calendar year 2018. More than 15% of those injuries were eye injuries.

“While we recommend leaving fireworks to the professionals, there are a few things that at-home users can do to protect their eyes,” said Espinoza, who is also an associate professor of ophthalmology at Saint Louis University School of Medicine.

Firework injuries can include blunt force trauma, chemical exposure and thermal burns and an injury can cause permanent eye damage and vision loss.

Those lighting the fireworks should wear safety eye goggles and make sure not to stand over or hold a device when lighting the fuse.

Young children should not be allowed to play with fireworks. Older children should be permitted to use fireworks only under close adult supervision.

If a fireworks-related injury occurs, it should be considered an emergency and one should seek immediate medical attention.

Espinoza has a few tips if an eye injury occurs.

“Don’t rub or rinse your eyes and don’t apply pressure,” Espinoza said. “Please don’t try to remove objects that may be stuck in the eye. Get to a doctor or the emergency room.”

Additional Safety Tips

SLUCare Physician Group

SLUCare Physician Group is the academic medical practice of Saint Louis University, with more than 500 health care providers and 1,200 staff members in hospitals and medical offices throughout the St. Louis region. SLUCare physicians are among the most highly trained in their fields – more than 50 specialties in all – and are national and international experts, renowned for research and innovations in medicine. For more information, visit us at