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Choosing Gifts That are Safe for Your Children’s Vision

November 29, 2022 Posted by Dr. Shah

Every year Christmas is full of illusion, especially on the part of children who long to receive the expected gifts from the hand of the Three Wise Men or Santa Claus. Many today already have a long list of toys ready, but are they all safe?

The Consumer Product Safety Commission recorded more than 226 thousand injuries caused by toys, almost half of which were to the head and to children under 15 years of age. On the other hand, it has been shown that those toys that incorporate darts are especially dangerous, since damage caused by these can lead to weeks of pain and blurred vision.

What eye damage can be caused by toys?

The eyes are very vulnerable organs and certain eye damage can have long-term effects on the eyes. Typically, eye damage associated with toys comes from abrasions and eye hyphema or bleeding, although in more severe cases it can lead to retinal detachment, rupture of the eye or blindness. It is also important not to abuse games that require looking at a screen, as overexposure can lead to increased myopia. On the other hand, toys containing darts can cause eye trauma, increased eye pressure or cataracts and if not properly treated can lead to the development of glaucoma in the future.

Therefore, it is important to remember some safety tips when choosing children’s toys this Christmas.

1.Prevent children from playing with high-powered lasers.

Several reports show that children playing with high-power lasers (between 1500 and 6000 mW) suffer serious eye injuries. Over the years, the power of these lasers has increased and they are capable of causing severe damage to the retina with only a few seconds of exposure to the eyes. For this reason it is important that a laser pointer is never pointed or directed at any person and that such products are not purchased for children.

2.Read the age recommendations on toy labels before purchasing toys.

Before purchasing a toy, it is important to make sure that it bears the European Union (CE) mark of conformity. To confirm that a toy is suitable for a child’s age, locate the label and age recommendations and follow the instructions for assembly, use and supervision.

3.Look for toys according to the child’s visual capacity.

While labels help us to confirm which toys are appropriate at each stage, when it comes to children with low visual ability, choosing which gift is the most appropriate can be a challenge. For this reason, knowing the capabilities of infants at each age can help to make a better choice:

  • From 0 to 3 years old: this is a time when they learn by playing and touching all the objects around them. Therefore, it is important to look for toys that help to establish bonds with parents, as well as hand-eye coordination and object recognition. At this age, toys do not have to be complex and simpler toys are usually better: contrasting colors, lights, noise and textures. Balls of different sizes and colors, pictures and books with large, simple facial expressions are also good choices. Remember that toys don’t always have to be developmental, they can just be fun.
  • From 3 to 12 years: At this age children develop motor skills, social and emotional interaction, the transition from concrete to abstract and literacy. From third grade on, children also begin to read, so toys and games that promote literacy in a playful environment are ideal: books with bright colors, textures and audible sounds. Other good choices for play are lighted building blocks, dominoes with raised dots, kinetic play sand, sports games and musical instruments.

4.Don’t just give gifts.

In addition to giving gifts, it is important to supervise the child playing with the gift. Therefore, it is vital to make sure that there is always someone watching the children when they play with any toy whose use could in one way or another cause eye injuries.

5.Beware of pellet guns and other projectile guns.

Every year, ophthalmologists treat thousands of patients with serious eye injuries caused by seemingly harmless toys. Therefore, toys containing projectile, protruding or sharp elements, such as BB guns, air guns or other foreign objects associated with these types of weapons, should be avoided because they can impact sensitive eye tissues.

6. If you give sports equipment as a gift, make sure you give eye protection.

Practicing sports without the proper equipment is one of the main causes of eye trauma and can lead not only to damage such as penetrations, contusions or injuries to the surface of the cornea, but also to leaks in blood vessels, corneal abrasions, inflammation or tissue detachment. If you give sports equipment as a gift, make sure you also give the appropriate eye protection.

7. Act when necessary and in the right way.

If a child or adult suffers an eye injury, go quickly to the ophthalmologic emergency room. From the moment of the injury until medical attention can be received, make sure not to touch, rub or apply pressure to the eye, and do not attempt to remove any object trapped in the eye.

Screen-free toy gift ideas

It is important that children fill their free time with activities that do not require the use of phones or tablets, since the use of screens can harm their eye health, causing an increase in myopia.

  • Craft materials: Plastic materials help enhance the creativity of little ones. Painting sets, coloring books, costume jewelry packs or play dough are some ideas to consider. However, it is important to look at the recommended age of these products before giving them as gifts.
  • Outdoor gifts: bicycles, roller skates or trampolines are good ways to encourage healthy outdoor play while having fun. Remember that you should also give them the appropriate protective goggles for the sport they practice.
  • Board games: There is an infinite variety of board games, from the most classic ones, such as Scrabble or chess, to the newest and most original ones. All of them allow children to develop their cognitive skills while enjoying a good afternoon with friends or family. Puzzles and card games are also recommended.

Champagne corks, another Christmas element to take into account

If it is a tradition for children to receive toys at Christmas, adults usually celebrate the holidays with a bottle of wine or champagne on the table. It is also important to be careful with the bottle stoppers, since a stopper can reach speeds of up to 80 km/h. Therefore, if it comes into contact with the eye at these speeds, abrasions, ocular bleeding and even glaucoma can occur.

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