Spike Seen in Kids' Eye Injuries From BB, Paintball Guns

From Drugs.com - January 8, 2018

Spike Seen in Kids' Eye Injuries From BB, Paintball Guns

MONDAY, Jan. 8, 2018 -- While BB and paintball guns may seem like harmless child's play, new research shows eye injuries among kids using them have shot up nearly 170 percent since 1990.

"These injuries happen in an instant, and can have significant lifelong effects," said study author Dr. Gary Smith.

The rise in these air gun-related injuries occurred even though the overall eye injury rate among kids dropped slightly, his team noted.

"The study investigated sports- and recreation-related eye injuries during a 23-year period, and found a slight decrease in eye injuries overall," said Smith. He directs the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

That overall drop "coincided with a decrease in participation in many youth sports during this period," Smith noted.

Basketball and baseball/softball were the two sports most often linked to eye injuries, accounting for about 15 percent of eye injuries each.

But even as sports-linked eye injuries declined, rates of serious ocular injury related to BB, pellet and paintball guns rose, the study found.

Overall, these injuries accounted for only 11 percent of pediatric eye injuries -- but they accounted for almost half of injuries that required hospitalization.

Among the more serious accidents, nearly 80 percent were linked to a child's use of either a BB gun or pellet gun.

Smith characterized the trends as "revealing."

"Eye injuries associated with sports and recreation are common, but preventable," he noted. "Increased prevention efforts are needed."

Smith said the finding points to the need for more safety eyewear. "In some cases, this may require a culture change within the sport, so that children are expected to use appropriate eye protection," he acknowledged.

In the study, Smith's team pored over data collected by the U.S. National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, to analyze eye injury trends between 1990 and 2012. The data covered nearly 442,000 children who had been treated in an emergency department.

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