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leave fireworks to the professionals

By Dr. Debra McCracken

Every year, about 10,000 people are rushed to the emergency department for fireworks injuries. Eye doctors treat thousands of patients who suffer a range of fireworks-related injuries, from cuts and bruises to damaged corneas, retinas, and ruptured eyeballs.

Many people believe that consumer fireworks are safe. But here’s the explosive truth: Most injuries are caused by legal fireworks parents buy for their children, such as sparklers, firecrackers, bottle rockets, and Roman candles.

To help reduce the number of potentially blinding fireworks accidents this holiday, Quigley Eye Specialists and the American Academy of Ophthalmology are sharing these tips:

Wear protective eyewear when igniting fireworks:

Eye doctors recommend that every household have at least one pair of ANSI-approved protective eyewear. Stop by any hardware store and pick up some safety glasses for the entire family.

Don’t pick up duds and misfires:

When a lit firework didn’t explode, Javonte McNair, 14, walked over and picked it up. The “dud” exploded, severing his hand and blasting hot debris into his eye, causing severe damage to his cornea. Keep a hose and buckets of water on hand for duds and misfires. Soak the dud from a distance with a hose or a bucket of water. Pick it up with a shovel and fully submerge it in a bucket of water to ensure it’s safe for disposal.

Keep a safe distance:

Bystanders are injured by fireworks as often as the operator. Stacy Young was 100 yards away when an illegal firework sent shrapnel. Ophthalmologists couldn’t save her eye. It had to be removed.

Supervise children closely:

Sparklers seem like harmless fun for the kids, but they are responsible for about 1,400 eye injuries each year. Even those tiny poppers or snappers can pose dangers. A ricocheting popper burned parts of five-year-old Nolan Haney’s eye and eyelid.

Celebrate with the pros:

The Fourth can be complete without using consumer fireworks. Quigley Eye Specialists and the Academy advise that the safest way to view fireworks is to watch a professional show.

If you experience a fireworks eye injury, eye doctors urge you to minimize the damage to the eye:

  • Seek medical attention immediately
  • Do not rub the eye. Rubbing may make the injury worse
  • Do not attempt to rinse the eye
  • Do not apply pressure to the eye
  • Do not remove objects from the eye
  • Do not apply ointments or take pain medications before seeking medical help.

To learn more ways to keep your eyes healthy, visit or the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s EyeSmart® website.

Dr. Debra McCracken is a Board-Certified Optometric Physician with Quigley Eye Specialists. Technology leaders
in eye care, Quigley Eye Specialists specializes in cataracts, laser cataract surgery, glaucoma, LASIK, dry eye, eyelid
surgery, retinal issues, corneal conditions, facial plastic surgery and routine eye care. The practice has served the region for more than 30 years with locations throughout South Florida including Bonita Springs, Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Lehigh Acres, Naples, Port Charlotte, Punta Gorda, North Port, Sarasota, Venice and Coral Gables. For more information, call 239-466-2020 or visit

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