Iowans are warned every Fourth of July about the risks of losing fingers or hands to fireworks, but explosives can also do serious damage to eyesight, even causing blindness.

Doctor Rao Chundury, an ophthalmologist at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, says last Independence Day they treated dozens of people who came through the emergency room.
“We see many different types of injuries from fireworks, from minor injuries to ocular burns and sometimes rather severe injuries,” Chundury says. “Personally and unfortunately, I also took care of several individuals who lost their eye completely because of fireworks.”

Some fireworks, including sparklers, can burn at temperatures up to 22-hundred degrees. Even brief contact with the delicate tissues of the eye can cause devastating burns. The injuries are preventable and he urges Iowans to wear safety glasses to protect the eyes when using fireworks.

“If you or your loved one has an ocular injury from fireworks, the most important thing that you can do is seek medical attention,” Chundury says. “We really don’t want individuals to remove the foreign body or the fireworks, apply ointments or rinse it out. That may actually cause more harm than good.”

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports fireworks are involved in more than 15,000 injuries treated in U.S. emergency rooms every year, with about 15% of those injuries involving the eyes