What child doesn't like toys? And what parent or grandparent doesn't enjoy buying a fun gift for their young loved ones?
But some toys that look really fun can pose a serious risk of eye injuries — including serious injuries that can result in permanent vision loss.
Toy-Related Eye Injuries
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, roughly a quarter of a million children are seen in the nation's hospital emergency departments each year due to toy-related injuries.
Nearly half of these injuries are to the head and face, and many are eye injuries. And about 35 percent of toy-related injuries are sustained by children under age 5.
But eye safety often is the last thing on people's minds when buying toys for children.
Common eye injuries caused by mishaps with toys can range from a minor scratch to the front surface of the eye (called a corneal abrasion) to very serious, sight-threatening injuries such as corneal ulcers, traumatic cataracts, bleeding inside the eye and retinal detachment.
Clearly, it's time for some rethinking about how we buy toys, to protect children's eyes from damage.
Six Kinds Of Toys That Pose A High Risk For Eye Injuries
Here's a list of six types of toys you might want to cross off your list when buying gifts for young children. Each has a high potential risk for eye injuries — especially if used by young children without adult supervision and guidance:
W.A.T.C.H. List Of Worst Toys For 2017
World Against Toys Causing Harm (W.A.T.C.H.) is devoted to protecting children from unsafe toys, and each year during the holiday season, the organization releases a list of 10 nominees for the year's worst toys.
Before you shop for toys, take a look at the three items below. All are on the 2017 "10 Worst" list, and all could be hazardous to kids' eyes.
Nerf Zombie Strike Dreadbolt Crossbow (Hasbro). This crossbow launches arrows at a force sufficient to cause eye injuries. The age recommendation is 8 and older, but can 8-year-olds be trusted never to "aim or shoot at eyes or face of people or animals," as the packaging advises?
Wonder Woman Battle-Action Sword (Mattel). This rigid plastic sword can cause facial, eye and other impact injuries. The packaging says it's recommended for children age 6 and older, but we think giving a young child a sword to play with is just asking for trouble.
Spider-Man Spider-Drone Official Movie Edition (Marvel). The blades on this drone rotate at high speed. Sold for use by kids 12 and older, the drone includes numerous warnings, including the advice to "keep spinning rotors away from fingers, hair, eyes, and other body parts."
Many well-known retailers carry eye-hazardous toys, including Amazon, Walmart, Target, Toys R Us and Kohl's. Ebay is another big source. You can send these retailers a message by refusing to buy such products.
To view the complete list of 2017 nominees for "10 Worst Toys," please visit the W.A.T.C.H. website .
By the way, we checked to see if any of the potentially eye-hazardous toys on the 2016 W.A.T.C.H. List are still available for sale by major retailers. The answer is yes. Here's a rundown:
Slimeball Slinger (Diggin Active). This "slimeball launcher" that resembles a slingshot is sold with squishy slimeballs that can be fired over 30 feet, according to the manufacturer. Though the packaging (which recommends this toy for children ages 6 and older) includes the warning, "never shoot at any person or animal" and other precautions, the Slimeball Slinger is an eye injury waiting to happen.
Nerf Rival Apollo XV-700 Blaster (Hasbro). This is a toy assault gun that shoots yellow foam "high-impact rounds" and is recommended by the manufacturer for children ages 14 and older. The packaging of this blaster encourages "precision battling" and "intense head-to-head competition," and the ammunition provided is shot with enough force to potentially cause eye injuries. Images on the box show children wearing masks covering their face and eyes, but this protection is not included and must be purchased separately (for the user and perhaps for anyone nearby!).
Flying Heroes Superman Launcher (I-Star Entertainment; The Bridge Direct). Recommended by the manufacturer for children as young as age 4, this toy includes a hand-held launcher that shoots a winged plastic Superman figurine into the air. Though the packaging tells users to "never aim at eyes or face" and includes other warnings, this whirling superhero can easily cause a serious corneal abrasion or other eye injury. (Imagine the fun at the emergency room, explaining how Superman is responsible for your child's painful eye injury.)
Banzai Bump N' Bounce Body Bumpers (Toyquest). Recommended by the manufacturer for children ages 4 to 12, this is an inflatable body suit that covers the wearer from the neck to above the knees, with openings for the arms. The idea here is to run into something while wearing the device and you will bounce back. Children on the packaging are shown running into each other without any added "protection" (not included) that is recommended by the manufacturer to prevent injury. And because the Body Bumpers suit may reduce a child's ability to control a fall, there is an increased risk of injury to the head, face and eyes.
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