New type of firework causes severe eye injuries, warn doctors

A new type of firework caused severe eye injuries and blindness in children and adults at last year's bonfire night celebrations, warn doctors in a letter to this week's BMJ.

Edward Pringle and colleagues describe how on the evening of 5 November 2011, eight patients attended the Sussex Eye Hospital, five with serious - two were blinded and the other three have a lifelong risk.

Police inquiries suggest the new explosive was derived from "rope banger deer scarers," which have a slow burning rope fuse that ignites several explosives along the rope. When cut down, the fuse and explosive can be lit and thrown.

All serious injuries were consistent with a blunt injury to the , caused by material within the explosive charge, explain the doctors. They also say that this rate of serious eye injury was greater than expected for a bonfire night, based on British Ophthalmic Surveillance Unit data.

"Numbers of blinding injuries have fallen in countries with that controls the use and distribution of fireworks," say the authors. "The UK has legislation to limit distribution, but deer scarers are exempt because they are not actual fireworks."

In the UK in 2005, 52% of firework injuries occurred at public events. Yet the authors point out that there is no legislation to impose safety restrictions at firework displays as serious accidental injury is not included in the Public Order Act.

They call on organisers to "actively engage their audience in safer use of fireworks and encourage eye protection" and conclude: "If we cannot create effective legislation we must create a culture that does not tolerate the throwing of banger-type explosives into crowds. Extraordinarily, this remains a challenge."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Doctors urge caution with July Fourth fireworks

Jul 02, 2012

The Fourth of July is a day of picnics, parades and celebrations, and nothing quite says Independence Day like fireworks. However, doctors at Vanderbilt University Medical Center urge caution with consumer ...

Bottle rockets can cause serious eye injuries in children

Jan 10, 2011

Bottle rockets can cause significant eye injuries in children, often leading to permanent loss of vision, according to a report posted online today that will appear in the May print issue of Archives of Ophthalmology.

Paintballs can cause 'devastating' eye injuries

Jan 15, 2009

Paintballs can cause severe and 'visually devastating' eye injuries, especially when used in unsupervised settings without proper eye protection, reports a study in the February issue of the American Journal of Ophthalmology (www.A ...

Recommended for you

Medicare hospital fund to last 4 years longer

4 hours ago

(AP)—The government says Medicare's finances have improved. The program's hospital trust fund won't be exhausted until 2030—four years later than last year's estimate.

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

ormondotvos
not rated yet Oct 02, 2012
They should go to Mexico and follow the fireworks suppliers that do the Saints' Days route. They set off rockets into the crowds routinely. Euros are such wimps.