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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 www.CoastalJerseyEye.com.

November is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month

Believe it or not, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 10% of the American population has diabetes! One in four seniors has type 2 diabetes.  If we add in pre-diabetics the figure rises to 100 million U.S. adults. That’s almost 30% of the U.S. population.

Diabetic eye disease comprises a group of eye problems including diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, cataracts and glaucoma. About one-third of diabetics have diabetic eye disease with 6-8% having severe sight-threatening disease. Thanks to the tremendous advances in the treatment of diabetes over the last generation, the likelihood of serious sight-threatening complications from diabetes has decreased dramatically.

As was noted in a recent medical article, ‘‘The marked reduction in…retinopathy [eye disease] and vision impairment over the past few decades…have resulted from the introduction of new devices for self-monitoring of blood-glucose levels and the administration of insulin, new medications (e.g., statins and hypoglycemic agents), surgical interventions (including vitrectomy), an increased awareness of the need for intensive control of glycemia [blood sugar] and blood pressure and the implementation of educational and screening programs.”

In other words, control of blood sugar, blood pressure and lipids (cholesterol and triglycerides) with medications along with proper management of eye disease is sight saving and life-enhancing. Weight control, diet and exercise, as we all know, play a key role in achieving these goals. 

People with diabetes are more likely to develop cataracts at an earlier age than those without diabetes. Also, diabetes doubles the chances of having glaucoma, which is a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve and can lead to vision loss and blindness if left untreated.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that diabetics receive a dilated eye exam annually regardless of age, duration of disease and type of diabetes. Dilation is done with eye drops and allows the eye doctor to clearly see the back of the eye, the part affected by diabetes.

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 www.CoastalJerseyEye.com.

Consult an Eye Care Professional if Your Halloween Costume Includes Scary Eyes

Decorative contact lenses have become increasingly popular Halloween costumes in recent years. While they made add a thrill to your costume, wearing costume contact lenses without a prescription can lead to serious eye infections or permanent vision loss.

Like regular contact lenses, decorative lenses must be prescribed and fitted by an eye care professional. When choosing accessories for your Halloween costume, protect your vision and avoid an unwanted scare by wearing only ophthalmologist-approved contact lenses from trusted manufacturers.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) strongly warns against using any over-the-counter non-prescription contact lenses. These lenses may be made with harmful materials that can cause painful corneal ulcers or keratitis, leading to impaired vision or blindness.

In addition, lenses with designs printed on them have rough surfaces which can scratch the eye, making the eye more vulnerable to infection-causing bacteria and viruses. Sometimes, scarring from an infection is so bad that a corneal transplant is required to restore vision. The most extreme cases can end in blindness.

The AAO offers the following tips to help ensure your Halloween costume won’t haunt you long after Halloween:

  • See an eye care professional to get a prescription for costume contact lenses.
  • Properly care for contact lenses. Even if you have a prescription for contact lenses, proper care remains essential.
  • Never share contacts. Sharing contacts spreads germs and can cause pink eye.

Ask your ophthalmologist about the risks before you purchase costume lenses, and have your eyes examined right away if you have used over-the-counter lenses. Have a safe and happy Halloween!

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 www.CoastalJerseyEye.com.