Watching a child’s eyes light up when they open a Christmas gift is one of those rare moments we as adults all strive for each holiday season. Although it’s easy to get carried away while toy shopping with the plethora of new gadgets and gizmos to choose from, keep in mind some toys are best avoided in order to keep kids safe from eye injuries after unwrapping their gifts on Christmas morning.
According to the Canadian Association of Optometrists, each holiday season, thousands of children end up in emergency rooms with eye-related injuries caused by unsafe toys. Eye injuries such as corneal abrasion, penetration by a foreign object, retinal detachment, or complete vision loss can occur from accidents or misuse involving a toy.
Think before you buy
There are many ways to ensure the toy is appropriate for a child. Check the toy’s recommended age group by reading the label on the product. Just because a toy is safe for a six-year-old to play with, doesn’t mean it’s appropriate for a toddler. Also, keep in mind when buying toys for older children, younger siblings may have easy access to a toy that is not appropriate for their age or maturity level.
The dark side of playtime
Even within the correct age parameters, make general observations on the toy before purchasing. Avoid sharp edges or points as well as toys with loose attachments such as arrows, bullets, and missiles. Projectile toys can cause damage if they hit the eye, no matter how soft they are. Water guns, games that involve fishing poles, and toy weapons of any kind can all be dangerous to a child’s eye if fallen on or when blunt trauma of any kind takes place. Laser pointers, bright flashing lights, or even a high-powered LED flashlight can cause temporary blindness. Cans of aerosol Silly String pose a serious risk because of the chemicals used in these products.
Take time to discuss your gift choices with the intended child’s parent. They may have some safety concerns or other considerations that you are unaware of when it comes to appropriate toy choices in their household. Some of the worst toys on the market are readily available in local stores, so check the World Against Toys Causing Harm 2019 list of worst toys before buying.
New toys rule
If you are a parent, the holiday season is an ideal time to check the state of old toys. Discard or repair old damaged toys. Consider adopting the rule of donating safe toys still in good condition when a new one comes into the toybox.
Read warnings and other safety messages on toy packaging together with your child before play. Teaching your child how to play safely can help prevent unnecessary eye injuries. Although Health Canada works with manufacturers to ensure the Hazardous Products Act and the Hazardous Products (Toys) Regulations are adhered to, toys that do not meet regulations sometimes remain on store shelves long after they have been pulled from the market. The Government of Canada lists all recalled toys on its website.
During play time, instill healthy habits early on by encouraging hand washing after play. Some toys with plastic or goo contain chemicals or other toxins that could irritate eyes or cause pink eye. Nothing beats adult supervision during play time as the best way to prevent toy-related eye injuries.