When buying a toy for a child’s birthday or as a Christmas present, the question of safety doesn’t typically come to mind. We think about how much fun the toy will be and the memories to be made with it, and we ask the parents or child what they want. It isn’t our intention to buy the toy that will lead us to an emergency room visit, but that’s exactly where we may end up if we don’t think about safety—in fact, an innocent water balloon fight or game of laser tag could harm our children.
You may have thought about them falling and spraining an ankle running, but have you ever considered how these toys or games could damage their eyes? Eye injuries can be minor, but they can also cause permanent damage. It could be a corneal abrasion—a scratch on the surface of the eye—or, in the worst case scenario, your child could lose their eyesight as the result of “harmless fun.”
Some of the most dangerous toys are projectile-based, such as dart guns, which can shoot foam bullets up to 75 feet at speeds that can lead to serious eye injuries; the same is true of water balloon launchers and water guns.
Toy fishing poles are also a hazard. The line can get caught in a child’s eye, and the pole itself functions as a poking hazard. Similarly, children can easily poke themselves or their playmates in the eye with toy swords, sabers, wands, guns with bayonets, and other items with points or sharper edges.
Aerosol string, party foam, and other chemically-based toys, like wands that blow bubbles, can cause serious eye irritation or infections as a result of the chemicals that comprise them.
Additionally—although technically not toys—laser pointers and flashlights are often items that children enjoy playing with, but the intensity of these devices can lead to eye damage. Even high-powered LED flashlights can lead to temporary vision loss, which puts children at risk for other injuries.
When our children ask us for these toys, we often buy them assuming they are safe. But before you buy the next “must have” toy, please consider the possible consequences: Ask yourself if you are willing to take the chance of something happening. Consider going through the toys you already have in your home. You can allow your kids to play with toys and have fun, but remember—safety first.