Friday, October 19, 2018
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Commentary

Keeping an eye on kids and their toys

Christmas has been and will always be a holiday for children. And when “Christmas” and “children” populate the same sentence, the word “toy” is usually close by. It’s what most children associate with the holidays.

This is fine by most parents, I assume. But most toys are three-dimensional. The American Academy of Ophthalmology is considering shuffling out toys that can cause serious eye injury such as darts and bows and arrows, and those intended to be replicas of weapons like swords, guns, and missile-firing toys. As these types of toys that mimic their real-world models can also be sharp or blunt, the possibility of injury is present.

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According to a paper that was presented in Boston, toys that cause injuries are: airsoft guns, balloons, eye patches, jigsaw puzzles, rubber darts, rubber snakes, suction cup guns, and toy arrows.

The real danger in toy firearms is that they appear real, which may cause confusion among children and result in tragedy. Thus, wise buying will make safer and more enjoyable holidays for kids and their parents. Be on the lookout for toy recalls. A quick Google search for the kind of toys you intend to buy or has been given to your kids may be helpful.

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Among the most vulnerable parts of the anatomy are the eyes. They are very sensitive to injury, as any contact can be potentially disastrous; even minor scrapes will take time to heal. Toys have reportedly been ranked the second most common cause of eye injury in the 6-10 age group, and mostly concerned boys.

With the proliferation of violence on TV and in video games, sharp and blunt toys mimicking weapons are not ideal toys for children. There’s just a mountain of options for safe, enjoyable, cheap and durable toys for kids on the market. As adults, we should be the ones to decide, and not always give in to our children’s whims even though it’s Christmas.

One of the famous toy guns available in the market is the “nerf gun.” According to some experts from the United Kingdom’s leading eye hospital, bullets from nerf blasters and guns could result in blurred vision and internal bleeding around the eye.

Other toy guns available in the market are those mounted with laser pointers. Eye injuries caused by laser light usually don’t hurt physically, though vision can deteriorate slowly and, therefore, may go unnoticed for days and even weeks. Ultimately, the damage could be permanent. Some examples of such toys are: lasers mounted on toy guns that can be used for “aiming,” spinning tops that project laser beams while they spin, hand-held lasers used during play as “light sabers,” and lasers intended for entertainment that create optical effects in an open room.

“A beam shone directly into a person’s eye can injure it in an instant, especially if the laser is a powerful one,” explains Dan Hewett, health promotion officer at the US Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health.

Kids can open presents but adults should take a good look at the toys and “kick the tires,” so to speak, before giving them to the excited recipients. Toys that easily break pose risks. Such toys are those with parts that are put together by sharp wires and straight pins, and with sharp edges not covered or sealed properly.

Parents should test toys for durability before handing them over to their children. An advisory from the Department of Health on toy safety states that when buying toys for kids, parents should always consider if these are age-appropriate. Always check the label on a toy’s packaging as well as its precautions, and always keep an eye on kids while they are playing. And don’t forget to dispose of plastic packaging properly to prevent asphyxia.

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Kids wearing glasses or other vision aids should be carefully supervised as excitement may get the better of them. They may discard their vision aids, which may also serve as protection, and thus lessen their ability to see clearly.

In case of injury, parents should immediately take their kids to a hospital or eye clinic as the injury, if not immediately attended to, may have lasting consequences. Have emergency numbers for eye doctors (optometrists and ophthalmologists) handy.

Carmen Abesamis-Dichoso, OD, MAT, is an eye expert.

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TAGS: children, Christmas, Commentary, eyes, Inquirer Opinion
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