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  • Writer's pictureEast Yorkshire Eye Surgery

Keep those Shiny Sparklers Safe this Fireworks Night!

Are you planning your fireworks event this year?

Our family is still quite young so we tend to enjoy watching the sky being lit up with twinkling bursts of colour from afar, but many of you will be planning to attend organised bonfire night events or you may even decide to set up your own fireworks evening in the comfort of your own garden.

My advice to you is to be SAFE, SOBER and wear SAFETY SPECS!

There are often advertising campaigns close to this time of year highlighting fireworks safety. Despite this I sadly still see patients with devastating facial and eye injuries that have occurred through the misuse of fireworks. Reporting from the front line, I want to reiterate the government advice on fireworks safety

and make you aware of the sorts of injuries that I have encountered throughout my career, and how you can prevent them.

It is fair to say that the majority of patients I have encountered with eye injuries from fireworks had been intoxicated at the time of injury. As I am sure many of you are aware, alcohol can adversely affect your body’s response times, coordination and can also cloud judgement, sometimes instilling a false sense of confidence. Some of the most upsetting injuries I have treated have been through people throwing fireworks at others. I urge you to think carefully about mixing alcohol with fireworks, particularly if you are hosting your own event. You should never light a firework if you have been drinking alcohol. I also strongly suggest that you wear eye protection, normal glasses for vision are not enough. Safety spectacles are easily available, inexpensive and really can and do make a difference. If you are planning on

Examples of eye injuries from fireworks

I have treated a spectrum of eye injuries due to injury from fireworks. Some have required topical treatment and/or medication, and some have needed surgical intervention. Many can recover but some do unfortunately result in life-long visual impairment.

Corneal abrasion

This occurs when the front of the eye is scratched or rubbed by a foreign body, resulting in damage to the ocular surface. This can recover and is often treated with eye drops, however, even a simple corneal abrasion can further develop into recurrent corneal erosion, whereby the patient gets repeated eye pain, tearing and light sensitivity due to a weakness in the area of the eye surface that was originally damage. This can occur months or years down the line. Wearing eye protection can help reduce the incidence of this injury.

Burns to eye lids

Fireworks are very hot, and I have encountered patients with severe burns to their face and lids as a result of fireworks exploding near to their face. Don’t forget that sparklers are extremely hot and can cause severe burns too. Anybody using a sparkler should be wearing eye protection.

Gunpowder in conjunctiva

If a firework explodes near to your eyes, for example after having just been lit, there can be multiple foreign bodies entering the eye. This needs urgent attention to clean out the eye, treat for damage/infection, and may need surgery.


Blunt trauma to the eye or orbit can cause blood to accumulate on the front of the eye, between the cornea and iris. This can be painful and reduce vision and can also increase pressure in the eye which may result in permanent visual impairment. Wearing protective eye wear can definitely help reduce the incidence of this type of injury.

Traumatic cataract

Blunt trauma to the eye can damage the lens of the eye and result in a traumatic cataract, which reduces vision. This type of injury will eventually require intra ocular surgery and lens replacement.

I hope this blog given you some food for thought about your plans for fireworks night. I hope that your celebrations are safe and enjoyable, look after yourselves and look out for each other, and look after your eyes – you only get one pair!

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