Virginia Tech researchers highlight danger of firework projectiles toward eyes

July 4, 2012
Virginia Tech researchers test fireworks and the risk of eye injuries for a research paper to be published in the publication in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Left to right are Andrew Kemper, Brock Strom, Stefan Duma, and Vanessa Alphonse.

(Medical Xpress) -- Just in time for the July Fourth holiday, Virginia Tech College of Engineering researchers have published a study that shines a new spotlight on the dangers of fireworks on the human eye, that projectiles from fireworks are more likely to cause severe eye injuries than the previously believed culprit blast overpressure.

The study, released July 3 and published in the latest issue of the , reinforces why states that have passed laws restricting firework projectiles observe fewer fireworks-related injuries.

“This is the first time anyone has quantified the pressures and it illustrates that are the problem,” said Stefan Duma, Virginia Tech professor of biomedical engineering and head of the Virginia Tech–Wake Forrest School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences, and one of the leaders of the study.

Roughly 2 million people in the United States suffer eye injuries that require treatment annually, said Duma. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has estimated that approximately 10,000 people are treated in an emergency department for -related injuries per year, and that slightly more than 2,100 of these are specifically related to the eye.  Bottle rockets and firecrackers comprise nearly half of these injuries. 

The economic burden for adult visual disorders related to these injuries is huge: Nearly $50 billion per year, Duma added.

Firework-related injuries in the United States -- especially in the month surrounding the Fourth of July -- are prevalent among children and adolescents. 

During the study, total and static overpressures were measured outside the test-subject eye using sensors mounted perpendicular and parallel to the explosion, respectively.  Intraocular pressure was measured with a miniature pressure sensor inserted through the optic nerve. High speed video was recorded for each event, and the eyes were carefully examined for injury after each test blast. Intraocular pressure was correlated to injury risk using previously published risk functions related to the eye.              

“This is the first study to document the pressure wave interaction with the eye, and to show that the pressure alone is not causing at this level,” said Vanessa Alphonse of Shrewsbury, Mass., a doctoral student in the School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences, who led the study as part of her thesis project while a master’s student at Virginia Tech. 

Explore further: Majority of Americans think they pay more toward social security and medicare than they do

Related Stories

Majority of Americans think they pay more toward social security and medicare than they do

June 29, 2011
According to a newly released Stony Brook Poll conducted in association with Left Right Research, a Long Island based Marketing Research supplier, more than 81 percent of approximately 7,000 people surveyed believe that they ...

Research focuses on common cause of blindness

December 13, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- Vision scientist Royce Mohan is focusing in on a treatment for corneal fibrosis, an irreversible pathogenic mechanism associated with the second-leading cause of blindness in the world. The cornea is the ...

Study: Youths in residential treatment have high rates of health problems

October 19, 2011
The issues involving a number of youths who land in residential treatment programs such as Boys Town are familiar: They have histories of juvenile delinquency; they struggle in school; they come from unstable homes; they ...

Doctors urge caution with July Fourth fireworks

July 2, 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 fireworks and suggest ...

Recommended for you

Newly deciphered vitamin D regulatory pathway opens doors to clinical research

August 21, 2017
Biochemists at the University of Wisconsin–Madison have deciphered the molecular mechanisms that underpin how the synthesis of the active form of vitamin D is regulated in the kidney, summing up decades of research in this ...

Despite benefits, half of parents against later school start times

August 18, 2017
Leading pediatrics and sleep associations agree: Teens shouldn't start school so early.

Doctors exploring how to prescribe income security

August 18, 2017
Physicians at St. Michael's Hospital are studying how full-time income support workers hired by health-care clinics can help vulnerable patients or those living in poverty improve their finances and their health.

Schoolchildren who use e-cigarettes are more likely to try tobacco

August 17, 2017
Vaping - or the use of e-cigarettes - is widely accepted as a safer option for people who are already smoking.

Federal snack program does not yield expected impacts, researchers find

August 17, 2017
A well-intentioned government regulation designed to offer healthier options in school vending machines has failed to instill better snacking habits in a sample of schools in Appalachian Virginia, according to a study by ...

In a nutshell: Walnuts activate brain region involved in appetite control

August 17, 2017
Packed with nutrients linked to better health, walnuts are also thought to discourage overeating by promoting feelings of fullness. Now, in a new brain imaging study, researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.