Christmas is right around the corner. Before you (or Santa) pick out that perfect toy for a tiny loved one, take a moment to make sure you aren’t purchasing anything that might turn Christmas Eve into a trip to the emergency room.
Children aren’t the most discretionary people, and they’re prone to accidents at the best of times. Certain toys can be dangerous for children under a given age, and that includes posing a danger to their eyes. (Or the eyes of adults, as we’ve seen recently with the severe eye injury caused to Savannah Guthrie by her son’s toy train.) Children’s eyes are still developing, and any eye injury can be very detrimental to their vision and overall eye health. Play it safe this year and keep in mind the following toy tips.
Be wary of “kid-friendly” weapons
Many toymakers market what are essentially weapons as toys for children. BB guns, pellet guns and even unrelated toys with firing elements (like some action figures) usually account for the majority of eye injuries in younger children.
If your child wears prescription eyeglasses, that might protect their eyes from a misfired Nerf dart, but it won’t do much good about a point-blank BB to the eye. You should always be cautious about giving your child toys that are meant to be thrown or fired. You don’t have to put a complete moratorium on them, but these kinds of toys should probably be relegated to the “adult supervision only” toybox.
Anything too bright
Anything with lasers or bright lights may not be a good match for a child. While it may seem obvious to an adult that pointing a laser directly into your eye or the eye of a friend is a poor decision, a toddler or young child may not think that far ahead. While severe damage from light exposure is relatively rare, retinal damage is still possible with these kinds of toys. You may think that anything labeled as a toy would be incapable of producing enough light to be harmful, but that isn’t always the case. Remember as well that children like to play with non-toy items like flashlights. These lights can cause similar retinal injuries or temporary “bright light blindness”, which may put children at risk of a fall or other injury.
Anything with chemicals
Aerosol strings are a common cause of conjunctivitis and eye irritation. Not to mention they’re a pain to clean up. Other toys that contain chemicals, like chemistry sets or children’s crafts should be closely monitored and only given to children of an appropriate age. It is all too easy for a small child to get a chemical (for example, paint) on their hands and then rub their eyes.
Look out for sharp edges
Closely examine all toy purchases for any sharp or pointy edges. It’s very easy for children to accidentally poke themselves in the eyes. This may not even be the result of misuse of the toy. Many smaller children lack the coordination and balance to safely maneuver around obstacles and can easily fall onto toys on the ground, injuring themselves if the toys are sharp at all.
Water may seem like a relatively safe choice, but when used at close range, a strong stream of water from one of the bigger water guns can cause eye pain, irritation, discomfort or even infection. Smaller, weaker water guns are usually safer. Older children may be more trustworthy with more powerful water guns if an adult supervises and has explained what constitutes a safe firing range.
Play it safe
Always check the age range on toys before purchasing them. These are not exact rules, only rough guidelines, but they should give you a decent idea of how old a child should be to safely play with a toy. If you ever have any doubts about the safety of a toy, it is better to be cautious and choose something else.
Supervision can often make all the difference. While it’s not impossible for a supervised child to hurt themselves, many injuries can be prevented by a responsible adult intervening. Eye injuries can be a painful and nasty affair. It is best to try and avoid them altogether.
Even with the most cautious parenting, children may stay get hurt tumbling around. In younger kids, broken or cracked glasses are even more common than they are in adults. It can be outrageously expensive to keep replacing your kid’s lenses at the optometrist’s office each time they get in a tussle. Fortunately, if you have your child’s current prescription, you can shop around at 39DollarGlasses.com for cheap prescription glasses that come in fun styles your child will actually want to wear.