December is National Safe Toy and Gifts Month

Children’s bright eyes epitomize the spirit of the holiday season, but those same bright eyes can become weary and even injured without proper supervision during the holiday gift-giving season as toys and computer games can prove hazardous to children’s vision. The Consumer Products and Safety Commission reports that more than 230,000 toy-related injuries are treated in emergency rooms annually. Of those injured, approximately one third under the age of five and more than 45% of those injuries are to the head and face. Most eye injuries caused by toys are completely preventable. Many parents are simply unaware of what to look for to maximize children’s eye safety when purchasing toys. 

Here are a few things to look for: 
  • Avoid purchasing toys with sharp, protruding or projectile parts. 
  • Check labels on toys for age recommendations and be sure to select gifts that are appropriate for a child’s age and maturity. 
  • Make sure toys are well made and durable. 
  • Make sure children have appropriate supervision when playing with potentially hazardous toys or games that could cause injury. 
  • Keep toys made for older children away from younger children. 
Another potential hazard to children’s eye health can result from spending countless hours playing games on computers. Extended exposure to computer screens is particularly straining on children’s eyes because they’re still developing. Focusing on an object in close proximity for an extended amount of time can cause eye fatigue, headaches or spasms in children’s eyes. A great way to alleviate computer-related vision problems is to follow the 20-20-20 rule. It’s easy to remember: every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break, and look at something 20 feet away. Also reminding children to blink is important as blinking washes eyes in naturally therapeutic tears. 
Here are a few tips to remember when children are spending extended amounts of time on a computer or in front of any other electronic screen: 
  • Be sure children sit at least arm’s length away from the computer or television screen when playing computer or video games. 
  • Encourage intermittent breaks away from the computer or television screen in order to give eyes a proper chance to rest. 
  • Try to keep window light off to the side of electronic screens rather than in front or behind. Position screens to reduce reflections from windows or overhead lights. 
  • Think about lighting. Good room lighting is important for healthy eyes. 
The holidays should be spent with friends and family, not in the emergency room. By taking a few simple precautions when it comes to toys, you can easily keep this holiday season and all of its festivities merry and bright. 

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Kerry Solomon, MD

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Our renowned ophthalmologist serves Charleston, and the entire state of South Carolina. Dr. Kerry Solomon's ophthalmology practice is located in Mt. Pleasant, with an additional location in West Ashley. Our practice specializes in refractive lens exchange, PRK, LASIK, laser cataract surgery with multifocal IOLs and toric lenses, and other eye surgery procedures. Dr. Solomon's patients come to Charleston from areas such as Myrtle Beach, Columbia, Beaufort, Hilton Head, Goose Creek, Johns Island, and Kiawah Island, SC; Asheville, NC; and Savannah, GA.

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