|Thousands suffer eye injuries from fireworks|
Fireworks displays are one of the most recognizable symbols of Independence Day, but there are risks of eye injury that can turn a celebration into tragedy in an instant, warns the Massachusetts Lions Clubs, part of Lions Clubs International, a worldwide service organization dedicated to the conservation of sight, and Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.
Each year, thousands of people across the country suffer serious eye injuries because of fireworks and nearly three-quarters of those injuries occur around the July Fourth holiday.
About 2,000 eye injuries are reported each year, with nearly half by bystanders, not the people who set off the fireworks. Even sparklers can be dangerousthey are the number one cause of eye injury to children. Sparklers consist of metal shrapnel burning at about 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit.
"Despite our many advances in the ability to repair severely injured eyes, the damage can be devastating, often resulting in blindness, permanently impaired vision or loss of one or both eyes," says Christopher Andreoli, M.D., Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary's Chief Resident and Director of Eye Trauma. "Most eye injuries caused by fireworks are preventable."
The Massachusetts Lions Clubs and Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary offer these sight-saving tips this Fourth of July season:
Leave it to the professionals: Pack a picnic and attend a professional fireworks display.
Leave it to the adults. Don't let children ignite fireworks or stand near others who do.
Keep your distance: View fireworks displays from at least 500 feet away, and keep away from lighted fireworks. Many injuries occur when checking on fireworks that have failed to ignite.
Wear eye protection: Eyeglasses or sunglasses can help protect the eyes from smoke, falling ash and stray sparks.
If an accident does occur, Dr. Andreoli advises covering the injured eye. Don't apply pressure to the eye or rub it, as that can make the injury worse and cause bleeding. Don't eat or drink anything until seen by a doctor. Most importantly, seek medical help immediately.
"Massachusetts is home not only to one of America's best July Fourth celebrations, it also has some of the best eye research and medical centers in the world," said Charles E. Kostro, head of the Massachusetts Lions Host Committee for the Lions Clubs International Convention in Boston from June 28 to July 4. "We urge people in every community across Massachusetts to have fun but to exercise caution because the gift of sight is precious."
Over the July 4 weekend more than 15,000 Lions Clubs members from around the world will be in Boston for the 89th Lions Clubs International Convention. It is one of the largest annual conventions of its kind in the world and will kick off with an International Parade of Nations down Boylston Street in Boston at 9:30 a.m. on July 1.
There are 241 Lions clubs and 8,339 Lions in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; divided into five regional sub-districts: Western Massachusetts, Central Massachusetts, Northeast and North Shore of Massachusetts, Greater Boston, and Southeast Massachusetts, Cape Cod and the Islands. Through fundraising efforts in cities and towns across Massachusetts, Lions club members have provided over $22 million to fund early stage eye research through the Massachusetts Lions Eye Research Fund. The Massachusetts Lions are initiated and fund the Lazarus program. Massachusetts' organ donor program coordinated through the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles.
Lions Clubs International is the world's largest service club organization with nearly 1.35 million members in 197 countries around the world. Since 1917, Lions clubs have aided the blind and visually impaired and made a strong commitment to community service and youth. For more information about Lions Clubs International, visit www.lionsclubs.org.
Founded in 1824, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary (MEEI) is an independent specialty hospital providing patient care for disorders of the eye, ear, nose, throat, head and neck. MEEI is an international leader in ophthalmology and otolaryngology research and a teaching partner of Harvard Medical School. For more information call 617-523-7900 or visit http://www.meei.harvard.edu.