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Eye Injuries from Toy Guns on the Rise — Precautions for Holiday Shopping


Children’s eye injuries from toy guns have increased by more than 500 percent in recent years, a recent study shows. With the holiday toy-shopping frenzy in full swing, the American Academy of Ophthalmology is urging parents to avoid buying toys that can cause serious eye injuries and even blindness in children.

Overall, 251,800 children under the age of 12 were treated in U.S. emergency rooms for toy-related injuries last year, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.[1] In terms of eye injuries, research from Stanford University shows that those caused by toy guns are on the rise.[2] A 2015 study found eye trauma from airsoft guns and pellet guns increased more than 500 percent in kids between 2010 and 2012. Commonly reported eye injuries included corneal abrasions, which are scratches on the front of the eye, and hyphema, a pooling of blood in the front of the eye. More severe trauma that can end in blindness includes retinal detachment and rupture of the eyeball.

But, not all toys have to shoot bullets to harm a child’s eyes. Foam dart guns, slingshots and even drones can also pose danger to children’s vision. The Academy encourages parents to keep in mind the following when purchasing toys this holiday season:

  • Avoid purchasing toys with sharp, protruding or projectile parts such as airsoft guns, BB guns and paintball guns. They can propel foreign objects into the sensitive tissue of the eye.
  • For laser toys, look for labels that include a compliance statement with 21 CFR Subchapter J. This ensures the product meets the Code of Federal Regulations requirements for laser products, including power limitations.
  • When giving sports equipment, provide children with the appropriate protective eyewear with polycarbonate lenses. They are shatterproof and less likely than other materials to damage the eye if broken on impact.
  • Check labels for age recommendations to be sure to select gifts that are suited for a child’s age and maturity. Also, keep toys that are made for older children away from younger children.
  • Provide appropriate adult supervision to children playing with potentially hazardous toys or games that could cause an eye injury.

“Every year, we see kids shot in the eye with pellets, BBs or foam darts,” said pediatric ophthalmologist Jane Edmond, M.D., spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “These can all cause permanent, serious eye damage to a child. If you do let your children play with these types of toys, make sure they wear protective eyewear.”

If your child experiences an eye injury, seek immediate medical attention from an ophthalmologist, a physician specializing in medical and surgical eye care. For more information on toy safety, see the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s toy safety page at or watch the toy safety video.

About the American Academy of Ophthalmology

The American Academy of Ophthalmology is the leading membership association of eye physicians and surgeons in the United States and globally. Its 32,000 members are passionate about preserving vision and fighting preventable blindness. They are also educators, humanitarians and advocates for their patients.  The Academy is a leading provider of eye care information to the public. The Academy’s EyeSmart® program educates the public about the importance of eye health and empowers them to preserve healthy vision. For more information, visit


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