Healthy Living

Play it Safe: Avoiding Common Eye Injuries

Aug. 23, 2016

Child’s play can be great fun, except when it results in an unexpected visit to the pediatrician or eye doctor. UR Medicine pediatric ophthalmologist Dr. Benjamin Hammond, of the Flaum Eye Institute, offers insight on some common childhood eye injuries.young girl with eye injury

Injuries can happen in the blink of an eye so use caution to help youngsters avoid corneal abrasions. These often result from:

Toy tinkering—The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates about 250,000 children are taken to hospital emergency rooms for toy-related eye injuries each year. Injuries frequently occur because a child uses a toy that isn’t appropriate for their age, or uses it in an unintended way. We’ve all seen a youngster swing a plastic doll or throw a heavy toy in anger, striking another child in the face. While any toy can be harmful if used inappropriately, extra care should be taken with toys used in simulated play-fighting or that launch projectiles, such as play swords or foam dart guns. These should never be swung or aimed towards the face. Many parents and children think these are harmless, but an unlucky hit or shot to the eye can cause injuries, including abrasions and bleeding inside the eye. Most heal without long-term impact on vision but they often need eye medications to prevent complications. 

Balls and bats—Budding athletes face injuries on the field and in the backyard where opportunities for being struck in the face by sports balls, fingers, elbows or equipment are plentiful. A blunt force hit or poke in the eye can cause bleeding or retinal detachments, which require immediate medical attention. A child who complains of blurry or cloudy vision, light sensitivity or flashes should see a doctor to check for an internal injury to the eye. Well-fitting protective eyewear can prevent up to 90 percent of sports-related injuries. And though few sports require routine eye protection, children with poor vision, previous eye surgery, or quality vision in just one eye should wear it.

Pet problems—Eye doctors frequently care for young children who suffer a dog bite near the eye. The family dog may be well-trained, but pet behavior can be unpredictable. Many times a dog bite near the cheek or eye will damage tear ducts. Parents can help avoid injury by teaching youngsters how to interact safely with pets.

Supervised play is one of the best ways to help reduce risky situations as children grow and gain understanding of the potential dangers of their behavior.


Benjamin Hammond, MD


Benjamin Hammond, M.D., is a pediatric ophthalmologist with UR Medicine’s Flaum Eye Institute, providing care in the Rochester and Geneva offices. He is an investigator with the Pediatric Eye Disease Investigator Group, a national organization committed to improving the eye health of children.