When you hear about cowboys and Indians you’ll most likely remember the time you ran across your backyard citing your favorite western movies. Flashforward a couple of years and people are running with air guns trying to steal a flag from the opposing team or are shooting tin cans somewhere secluded. These air guns, whether they are BB guns or paintballs, seem harmless fun, but apparently, they are one of the biggest reasons behind eye injuries. According to a new research, eye injuries caused by air guns have skyrocketed nearly 170 percent since 1990.
“These injuries happen in an instant, and can have significant lifelong effects,” said Dr. Gary Smith, lead author of the study.
Dr. Smith and his team investigated eye injury cases that occurred during sports- and recreation-related activities during a 23-year period. While they found a slight decline in eye injuries overall, air gun-related injuries have risen throughout the time span.
The drop is believed to have occurred due to a decrease in participation in youth sports, Smith noted. 15 percent of the reported eye injuries were linked with basketball and baseball/softball.
Eye injuries caused by BB, pellet and paintball guns, accounted for 11 percent of pediatric eye injuries, but almost half of these cases required hospitalization. The most severe accidents were linked to children who used either a pellet or BB gun, racking up 80 percent.
Smith noted that eye injuries associated with sports and recreation are common and preventable. He urges air gun users to always wear protective glasses, a feat which may require a “culture change” within the sport.
Smith and his team sifted through data collected by the US National Electronic Injury Surveillance System. They collected more than 440 thousand cases where children had to be treated in an emergency department. The researchers looked at cases which occurred between 1990 and 2012.
Children between the ages of 10 and 17 were found to be the most prone eye injuries, with boys accounting for three-quarters of accidents.
The findings have been published in the journal, Pediatrics.
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