If toys are on your holiday shopping list, one vision expert suggests you pay close attention to a few elements before you buy — especially making sure the toy is age appropriate. Dr. Beth Triebel, an optometrist in West Des Moines, says a recent report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission found about 6,000 child eye injuries per year due to toys.
“The most common eye injuries that we see are from toys that have sharp edges and corners or especially toys that are projected in some way,” Dr. Triebel says. “You also need to look out for things that have long handles that could be poking in somebody’s eye or even things that propel water. High-velocity squirt guns can injure the eyes as well.”
She says there are plenty of high-tech toys that generate a lot of light which can also pose a threat to a child’s vision. Triebel says, “It’s usually not things that would be like a regular bright light bulb but some things, like laser pointers or more condensed lights in a small area, if a child would look at that for a prolonged period of time, that could actually cause some damage.”
Many kids are naturally attracted to things that sparkle and they should not be allowed to play with things where the particles can get in their eyes. At this time of year, she says she frequently sees young children in her office who have glitter in their eyes.
Triebel says to watch out for greeting cards, wrapping paper and tree ornaments with loose glitter. She says there are some toys that can clearly help a child’s visual development.
“When they’re young, you really just want to make sure there are bright things for them to see, especially if they have noise coordinated with them because the noise helps pull in where they should pay attention,” Triebel says. “Use bright rattles and rubber squeaky toys and those kinds of things to get their attention and help guide where their eye needs to be.”
For older kids, she says toys that build eye-hand coordination are also a plus. Triebel says all toys, new and old, should be inspected by parents regularly for damage and damaged toys should be tossed out. For more safety tips and information on toy recalls, visit the United States Consumer Products Safety Commission website: “www.cpsc.gov“.