A lot of us remember how much fun we had during our growing up years playing with air guns. Going “hunting” in the woods during school breaks, practicing target shooting, banding up with friends into armed war groups…
It is fortunate that we came out of those exciting air-gun playing days without an accident, but a lot of children are not so lucky. A study of pediatric eye injuries due to non-powder guns in the United States has found that since 2010, the number of air gun-related accidents has gone up by 600 per cent or more. In fact, most eye injuries that required children to be rushed to the ER were caused by an air gun.
The toy gun, which mimics the mechanisms of a real firearm, can inflict eye damage that is severe and long-lasting. According to the study, nearly three out of ten kids who got shot at by an air gun had poor eyesight after treatment with a visual acuity worse than 20/50.
The types of eye trauma include:
• Corneal abrasions
• Dislocated lens
• Detached retina
• Internal bleeding
• Rupture of the eyeball
At this time, there are no laws in the United States pertaining to air guns and in many states, kids under the age of 18 are allowed to buy them without any caveats.
The American Academy of Opthalmology and the American Medical Association are trying to create an environment where parents are cognizant of the dangers of air guns and oversee their responsible usage. Wearing the correct protective eye gear is the only way to prevent vision loss from an accident, but the goggles have to be chosen carefully.
Ordinary sunglasses or skiing goggles are not safe eye protection when playing with air guns. They will shatter on high impact and actually inflict more damage to the eye than the BB or air gun pellet will on its own. Safety eyewear for civilians with a Z-rating may be suitable for sundry outdoor and home improvement projects but they’re not recommended as protection for air guns either. You need to look into “ballistic” eyewear that cover the entire eye area and are strong enough for military use. They come with a rating that is different from civilian safety eyewear.
The very fact that a child needs that level of eye protection should be suggestion enough to any parent that the “toy” must be used responsibly and under adult supervision. In this digital-inspired era when 3-D imaging and high-action gaming has taken over the imaginative space of an American child’s mind, real life dangers are sometimes hard to fathom…