Having been ‘locked down’ for so long, many residents look forward to celebrating Guy Fawkes on 5 November 2020, Diwali on 14 November and, of course, fast-approaching New Year’s Eve. Fireworks generally accompany these festivals and we urge you to use these explosives with caution.
While adults and children marvel at the spectacle firecrackers and rockets produce, eye injuries are a common result when basic fireworks’ safety precautions are ignored.
Fireworks in South Africa are controlled in terms of the Explosives Act 15 of 2003 (Explosives Act). You are advised to familiarise yourself with the law because eThekwini Municipality takes the Explosives Act very seriously.
Eye damage from fireworks ranges from scratches on the surface of the eye to more serious and sometimes permanent vision damage. It happens so quickly, and it is important to remember that sparklers, considered relatively harmless, are the main cause of eye injuries in children under the age of 15. Sparklers burn at about 816 degrees centigrade and can cause severe damage.
Common eye injuries that require urgent attention include:
- scratched eye – from being poked in the eye, or rubbing the eye when a foreign body, such as dust or sand, is present, causing eye redness and sensitivity to light, infection can follow – do not rub or patch the eye because bacteria thrive in warm, dark places
- penetration of a foreign object such as a fish-hook – cup or cover the eye; an eye doctor must remove the foreign object as a matter of urgency
- chemical burns – depending on the substance, the effects can range from minor irritation and red eyes to serious eye damage and even blindness; call an eye doctor immediately, explain what substance got into your eye and what you have done about it
- eye swelling caused from being struck in the eye, most often by a ball – an ice pack is recommended and it’s advisable to ensure, from an eye doctor, that there is no internal damage, a black eye may occur
- traumatic iritis – inflammation of the coloured part of the eye can occur after an eye injury, such as the being struck with a blunt instrument, and requires treatment.
Eye bleeding common from minor injuries, is caused by the leaking of blood from a break in a blood vessel. It is painless, temporary, looks worse than it is, and no treatment is required.
For most eye injuries you are advised to seek speedy medical attention – never hesitate to contact or see an eye doctor immediately.
After an eye injury DO NOT:
- rub your eyes – this may increase bleeding and worsen the injury
- rinse your eyes, unless otherwise directed by an eye doctor.
- remove any objects that are stuck in your eye.
- take blood-thinning pain relief medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen, unless directed by a doctor.
- apply pressure to the eye – holding or taping a paper cup over the eye can help protect the eye from further injury; or use the cut-off and cleaned bottom of a juice carton.
- apply ointment, which will make the area around the eye slippery, therefore, difficult for the doctor to examine.
We offer a safe, welcoming environment, follow all the Covid-19 health protocols – and implore you to follow good eye-care practices