Independence Day is still a few weeks off but fireworks are already being seen and heard popping in Iowa’s back yards. Cindy Reed, director of the Iowa Lions Eye Bank at the University of Iowa, says all of the warnings about the dangers of illegal fireworks are being ignored — again. Reed says people hear about the risks of losing a finger to fireworks but they don’t realize the risk to their eyesight. “It’s one thing to lose your little finger to fireworks but it’s another thing to be blind…for the rest of your life.” She says 17-year-old Nicholas Hansen, from the northwest Iowa town of Schaller, was hit in the right eye on July 5th last year by a Roman candle fireball that was shot off by a neighbor. Reed says Hansen was very fortunate that he was brought to the U-of-I for immediate treatment. He’s had several surgeries to reconstruct the eye, including a recent corneal transplant. His vision is partly restored now, almost a year later. Reed says Hansen’s case shows how it’s dangerous to even be near fireworks that aren’t part of a professional display. Reed says more than 18-percent of fireworks injuries affect the eyes and half of those eye injuries result in blindness.
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