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Eye Trauma – Watch out for Nerf gun bullets!

Posted: Sep 22 2018

During our lives most of us will have experienced an eye injury of varying degree that may or may not have meant we required medical attention and possibly feared for our sight.

Whether it was a champagne cork at our Christmas party, a sparkler on Guy Fawkes night, performing a DIY task, during a sports activity or from a child’s toy; whatever the cause, the effect can be incredibly painful and may even threaten sight.

Sight, arguably our most precious sense should mean we take the utmost care of our eyes and protect them at all costs; so it’s hard to believe that we see a significant number of people attending eye emergency departments with serious eye injuries many of which are avoidable.

Recently there have been an increasing number of eye injuries caused by Nerf gun bullets. These are toy guns which children use to randomly fire hard ‘dart like’ foam pellets at fairly close range and high speed. The cases reported have been of unsuspecting parents or the children’s family and friends who have been shot in the eyes by a bullet causing serious trauma and putting their eyesight at risk.

How can you protect your eyes?

When your children play with toys such as Nerf guns you need to remain vigilant and teach them to fire the bullets away from the face at all times and supervise them. Best still, avoid them all together! It’s always difficult to balance having fun and giving your kids the enjoyment of playing with such toys and keeping them and others safe. In some cases, prevention is better than cure!

Another option is protective glasses or goggles but trying to get your kids to wear these will present its own challenges!

It’s worth emphasising that the risk of sustaining an eye injury secondary to a Nerf gun bullet is low but never the less, it is something to be aware of.

How will I know if I have an eye injury that requires treatment?

If you suspect you have an injury to your eye you may experience one or more of the following symptoms and should seek urgent medical attention:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Reduced vision or the vision goes black or dark
  • Burning sensation
  • Flashing lights or floaters
  • Foreign body visible

Where to get the best emergency treatment for an eye injury?

The best help can be found at your local eye emergency department. In London, there are two eye casualty departments which are open all hours, the Western Eye Hospital on Marylebone Road, part of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust located near Baker Street Station or if you live in the East of London, the nearest eye casualty would be at Moorfields Eye Hospital located near Old Street Station.


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