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Toys to avoid this holiday season

The holiday shopping season is in full swing, and while we are focused on the latest toy fads it’s important to steer clear of hazardous items that can harm your child’s eyes.

Some toys that look fun can pose a serious risk of eye injuries — including permanent vision loss.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 251,800 children were admitted to hospitals in 2018 with toy-related injuries. Forty-four percent of these injuries were to the eyes, and 34 percent happened to children younger than five years old.

As innocent as they seem on the surface, toys can cause serious eye injuries including minor scratches to the surface of the eye (corneal abrasion) to sight-threatening injuries such as corneal ulcers, traumatic cataracts and retinal detachment.

Here’s a list of toys to avoid this holiday season:

  1. Guns/projectiles. Avoid any toys that shoot objects into the air. Toy guns can shoot up to distances of 75 feet, and darts move fast enough to cause serious eye injuries — especially when used at close range.
  2. “Pointy” toys. Avoid toys with sharp or rough edges. Make sure long-handled toys have rounded handles, and closely supervise toddlers with these toys.
  3. Aerosol string. The chemicals in these products cause eye irritation and conjunctivitis. Used at close range, aerosol strings can also cause corneal abrasions that lead to serious eye infections.
  4. Laser pointers and bright flashlights. Portable laser pointers should never be used by children, as the light intensity can cause permanent vision loss. Even high-powered LED flashlights are dangerous by causing temporary blindness that puts a child at risk.

Choosing the right toys for eye safety is a concern for every parent. Children spend a great deal of time playing with toys, so it’s important to make sure those toys are safe for overall health as well as eye safety.

Dr. Stephen H. Uretsky is a board-certified ophthalmologist with 35 years of practice experience who specializes in comprehensive eye care. Coastal Jersey Eye Center features an optical center, Classic Eyewear, which provides eyeglass frames and lenses to suit every style and budget. For more information on eye exams or to schedule an appointment, please call the Linwood office at 609.927.3373 or 609.465.7926 for the Cape May Court House office. Visit online at