OHSU'S Casey Eye Institute Urges Fireworks Safety to Prevent Eye Injuries This Independence Day

06/30/00    Portland, Ore.

Each year in the United States, approximately 2,400 people are treated in hospital emergency rooms for eye injuries caused by fireworks. As many as 400 Americans lose their sight completely. This Independence Day, Oregon Health Sciences University's Casey Eye Institute reminds Northwest residents to celebrate safely. Traditionally, the Fourth of July is the most common holiday for fireworks eye injuries.

Doctors at Casey Eye Institute offer the following tips to ensure a safe holiday weekend:

  • Don't use bottle rockets. They are the most dangerous type of fireworks by far due to the fact that they fly erratically, frequently injuring bystanders. Bottle rockets cause 67 percent of all fireworks eye injuries. Firecrackers cause 7 percent of eye injuries and Roman candles cause 4 percent.
  • Protect your eyes with safety glasses or safety goggles. Regular prescription glasses, sunglasses or contact lenses provide little or no protection and can actually contribute to an injury.
  • Never put fireworks in glass bottles, tin cans or clay pots because these objects can shatter and cause eye injuries.
  • In the case of an accident, do not touch, rub or press on the injured eye. Seek immediate care from an ophthalmologist or go to the emergency room.
  • Never allow young children to play with fireworks.

For more than 50 years OHSU has provided emergency eye care services to Northwest residents. In addition to trauma services, the Casey Eye Institute is one of the country's leading research centers for eye diseases such as macular degeneration and glaucoma. Casey is also home to the Elks Children's Eye Clinic. Since 1984 the Elks have donated $7 million to the clinic to pay for personnel, the latest equipment and technology, medical supplies, as well as corrective glasses and contact lenses for those who could not otherwise afford them.

Editors: An opthalmologist is available to comment on the prevention and treatment of eye injuries caused by fireworks. Contact Jim Newman in University News and Publications at 503 494-8231 if you are interested in setting up an interview.