By: William Benevento, MD

As we’re immersed in the toy buying season, here are a few tips to keep in mind on toy safety and selection. These guidelines are not absolute; the best toy for a child takes into account their individual interests, abilities, and level of responsibility.

An estimated 17% of all eye injuries to children are caused by missile-type toys or toys with hard edges or detachable parts. Look for toys marked with “ASTM”, which means the product meets the national safety standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials. Do not allow your children to play with non-powder rifles, pellet guns or BB guns. They are extremely dangerous and have been reclassified as firearms and removed from toy departments. Some propelling toys, like airsoft guns, arrows, BB guns, paintball guns and darts can be particularly hazardous, with the potential to cause serious eye injuries such as corneal abrasion, ocular hyphema, traumatic cataract, increased intraocular pressure, and even permanent vision loss.

Youngsters are particularly vulnerable during the excitement of the holidays. The Illinois Society for the Prevention of Blindness gives these following recommendations:

1. Be aware of how and where your children or grandchildren play with their toys. There is no substitute for sensible adult supervision.

2. Keep inappropriate toys away from children too young or too inexperienced to use them properly.

3. Make sure toys will not shatter with rough handling or under violent impact.

4. Read manufacturers’ instructions for using toys properly and age appropriateness.

5. Ensure that laser product labels include a statement that the device complies with 21 CFR (the Code of Federal Regulations) Subchapter J.

Don’t forget that sports equipment, a popular gift, should also include protective eyewear. Sports-related eye injuries account for about 40,000 eye injuries annually.

One final note: If you have been around Christmas morning you know, more than a few young children are more interested in the wrapping paper and boxes than the present. Be careful these can be dangerous play things.

Keep it simple and have a safe and happy holiday.

Bio: Dr. Benevento is a board certified ophthalmologist. He has special interest in diabetes and the surgical treatment of cataracts with the latest techniques. Dr. Benevento practices at Eye Surgeons Associates Bettendorf and Muscatine, Iowa offices. For more information, please see our website: www.esaeyecare.com.

The material contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider.

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