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A Focus on Children's Eye Safety for Iowa Holiday Shoppers

PHOTO: Toy guns are most often cited when it comes to toys and childhood eye injuries in the United States. Photo credit: au_tiger01/Flickr.
PHOTO: Toy guns are most often cited when it comes to toys and childhood eye injuries in the United States. Photo credit: au_tiger01/Flickr.
December 12, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa - As parents across Iowa pack the stores and malls again this weekend, they're being reminded that some gifts that may bring joy also could bring pain.

Each year in the United States, thousands of accidents each year involving children and toys result in eye injuries and even blindness. The toy gun is one of the most often cited, said Gary Ellis, executive director of the Iowa Optometric Association.

"If you're buying toys that have a more obvious potential to cause these injuries, make sure the proper safety equipment is purchased," he said. "Ideally things like BB guns, dart guns and arrows should be avoided completely, especially if there's younger kids in the house."

Ellis also said parents should heed the age recommendations of toy manufacturers, while also considering their own child's development.

Toys that could do physical harm to a child's eyes, however, are not the only danger that may come wrapped up under the tree. Ellis said vision problems can come from prolonged use of video games, smart phones and tablets.

"Kids nowadays are getting involved in those video games and electronics at a much younger age, so that obviously creates much more exposure to the eyes as far as problems," he said, "If you sit there and do those things hours on end, it's going to do some damage to your eyes."

For kids and adults who spend long periods of time staring at a screen, it's recommended that they follow the 20-20-20 rule: taking a 20-second break every 20 minutes, and viewing something 20 feet away.

A safe-toy checklist from Prevent Blindness is online at preventblindness.org.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - IA