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Take safety precautions with fireworks to help prevent eye injuries

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Kentucky Optometric Association

 FRANKFORT, Ky. – Fireworks are a tradition that go hand-in-hand with the Fourth of July.

But all too often, that tradition can lead to injury. That’s why the Kentucky Optometric Association is urging families to take precautions to protect themselves and their children against the potential dangers of fireworks.

“Safety should always be the top priority when celebrating with fireworks,” said Dr. Aaron McNulty, an optometrist in Louisville. “Children are especially vulnerable to injury from fireworks, particularly sparklers because they are handled at such close range.”

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are more than 11,000 fireworks-related emergency-room visits annually, and 65 percent of them occurred in the weeks surrounding July 4. Eye injuries account for many of those visits.

To help prevent eye injuries during fireworks season, the Kentucky Optometric Association recommends the following tips to help protect and preserve eyesight during the Fourth of July holiday:

- Discuss firework safety with children and teens before July 4.

- Don’t allow children to handle fireworks, and never leave them unsupervised near fireworks.

- Wear protective eyewear when lighting and handling fireworks of any kind.

- Store fireworks, matches and lighters in a secure place where children won’t find them.

- Don’t buy sparklers. Heating up to 2,000 degrees or hotter, sparklers are the No. 1 cause of fireworks injuries requiring trips to the emergency room.

- Be aware of your surroundings, and only light fireworks when family, friends and children are at a safe distance.

- “If a firework-related eye injury occurs, always follow up with a full optometric eye exam,” McNulty said. “An optometrist will help ensure that the injury heals correctly and will continue to monitor for future vision problems.”

To find a doctor of optometry in your area, visit www.kyeyes.org.

 About the Kentucky Optometric Association:

There are approximately 550 doctors of optometry in Kentucky.

U.S. optometrists serve patients in nearly 6,500 communities across the country, and in 3,500 of those communities are the only eye doctors. Doctors of optometry provide two-thirds of all primary eye care in the United States.

Doctors of optometry are highly qualified, trained doctors on the frontline of eye and vision care who examine, diagnose, treat and manage diseases and disorders of the eye. In addition to providing eye and vision care, optometrists play a major role in a patient’s overall health and well-being by detecting systemic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.

Prior to optometry school, optometrists typically complete four years of undergraduate study, culminating in a bachelor’s degree. Required undergraduate coursework for pre-optometry students is extensive and covers a wide variety of advanced health, science and mathematics. Optometry school consists of four years of post-graduate, doctoral study concentrating on both the eye and systemic health. In addition to their formal training, doctors of optometry must undergo annual continuing education to stay current on the latest standards of care.