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Independence Day may have passed but fireworks season is still in full swing and fireworks-related injury and death is a real and serious danger.  According to the 2014 Annual Fireworks Report, compiled by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission there were at least 11 deaths and 10,500 injuries due to fireworks last 

While the most common injuries occurred to the hands and fingers (approximately 36%), about 1 in every 5 of the injuries (19%) were to the eyes, where contusions, lacerations and foreign bodies in the eyes were the most common injuries. The danger to the eyes is serious and can result in permanent eye damage and loss of vision. Fireworks can rupture the globe of the eye or cause chemical and thermal burns, corneal abrasions and retinal detachment.

Sadly, children from 5-9 years of age had the highest estimated rate of emergency department-treated fireworks-related injuries (5.2 injuries per 100,000 people) and children under 15 years old accounted for 35% of the total injuries. Nearly half of those injured were bystanders and not actually handling the fireworks themselves. 

Here are Five Fireworks Safety Tips to enjoy fireworks safely:

  • The safest way to view fireworks is at a professional public display rather than at home use.
  • When viewing fireworks, carefully adhere to the safety barriers and view them from at least 500 feet away.
  • Never touch unexploded fireworks. Contact local fire or police departments immediately to deal with them.
  • Never let young children play with any type of fireworks even sparklers. 
  • In cases where consumer fireworks are legal, use them safely. Anyone that handles fireworks or is a bystander should wear proper protective gear and eyewear that meet national safety standards. 
  • Professional grade fireworks should only be handled by trained pyrotechnicians.

If a firework-related eye injury does occur, seek medical attention immediately. Try to leave the eye alone as much as possible; do not rub or rinse the eyes, apply pressure or try to remove an object that has entered the eye. 

In addition to knowing the dangers and safety precautions yourself, it’s important to teach your children about firework safety. Always remember that while they are fun to enjoy in the right setting, fireworks are explosive devices and should be treated as such. 

Cataracts are a leading cause of vision loss in the United States and Canada. Here are 6 things you need to know.

1. Chances are you will develop a cataract! 

Cataracts are considered part of the natural aging process so if you live long enough, you will likely eventually develop one. 

2. A cataract is a clouding of the usually transparent lens in your eye.

The lens in your eye focuses light onto the retina at the back of your eye, allowing you to see. When your lens starts to clouds up, the images projected onto your retina become blurry and unfocused. You can compare this to looking through a dirty or cloudy window. If the window is not clear, you can’t see!

3. Age is not the only risk factor for cataract development.

While the risk of developing a cataract does increase as you age, it is not the only factor. Other risk factors include eye injury, certain medications (eg: steroids), diseases such as diabetes and macular degeneration, lifestyle choices such as alcohol consumption, smoking and prolonged exposure to the sun. 

4. Your treatment options are not limited to surgery.

If cataracts are detected in the early stages of development, non-surgical options including stronger glasses or even better lighting go a long way to help alleviate the condition’s detrimental impact on your vision at first. However, most people do need cataract surgery eventually. Fortunately, the procedure is very low risk and has an excellent success rate. It is relatively non-invasive, often requiring no more than a tiny laser-assisted incision, performed in an outpatient clinic.

5. Cataracts have warning signs

Cataracts don’t suddenly develop overnight. If you notice you have cloudy vision or see halos around lights, have trouble with night vision or see double in one eye, make a visit to your eye doctor a priority so you can get it checked out.

6. What you eat can reduce your risks.

Don’t let cataracts interfere with your quality of life. Be sure to schedule regular eye exams so that you stay on top of your overall eye health.

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