Posted on May 14, 2017
Beware of Projectile Toys (Even Airsoft & Nerf guns)!
By: Jeffrey Colburn, MD
Projectile toys carry a risk for serious eye injury for kids. The risk is obvious with BB, pellet, and paint ball guns. These small, hard, and fast projectiles can cause devastating eye injuries by penetrating into or rupturing the eyeball itself. However, many people do not realize that even softer and seemingly safer projectiles such as Airsoft guns or Nerf guns/arrows can also potentially cause serious eye injuries. Though they may not often rupture the eye open, a direct hit from one of these projectiles can still impact the eye hard enough to damage the tissues inside the eye and cause internal bleeding, among other possible eye injuries.
Blood inside the eye is called a hyphema. This is a potentially serious situation which could lead to permanent damage to the eye and vision loss from repeat bleeding, high eye pressure, cataract formation, retinal swelling, or optic nerve damage. The treatment can be difficult for anyone, but especially children, with frequent eye drops and complete restriction of activity for up to a week (if all goes well). Sometimes urgent surgery is even needed to minimize damage to the eye. (The photo below comes from the AAPOS website. Follow the link below to learn more about hyphemas).
Dr. Weed and I have seen and treated many such eye injuries. We would urge you to consider carefully the risk of any kind of projectile toys. If your children are going to be playing with any such toys, get them protective eye goggles. Educate them on the importance of wearing the eye protection when they are playing and as well as not shooting towards other people who are not wearing protection. Planning ahead is the key to avoiding unfortunate eye injuries that could have a lifetime of consequences.