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Healthy Vision Month

Taking care of your vision is a health priority similar to eating well and exercising. Your vision keeps you safe and allows you to experience the beauty of the world. Despite the importance of maintaining one’s eye health, Optometrists are often challenged with educating the public on the necessary steps to take care of their eyes. The need for proper eye care education has developed into Healthy Vision Month, a reminder every May from the optometry community to take the necessary steps to ensure your vision remains healthy for the years to come. In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits of receiving regular comprehensive eye exams and other health strategies that will benefit and protect your eyes.

Comprehensive eye exams performed by an optometrist are an essential component of taking care of your eye health and vision. Your optometrist will discuss your family’s health history with you, screen for your vision quality, and perform tests to evaluate your eye health. It is recommended for a healthy adult to receive a comprehensive eye exam once every two years. Bi-annual eye exams ensure that your vision is accurate and that you’re not at risk of an eye condition. The early detection of eye diseases is essential for effective treatment, as timely treatment will result in better outcomes.

Some special considerations for examination frequency include:

  • Those that have refractive errors and need glasses or contact lenses should receive an eye exam annually. Annual eye exams will ensure one’s prescription is up to date.
  • Infants and Children should receive their first eye exams between 6-12 months old, 3-5 years old, and just before they enter kindergarten. Healthy vision in children is important for their learning and early development.
  • Those over the age of 65 should receive an eye exam annually. Aging makes one more vulnerable to eye conditions, such as Glaucoma and Age-related Macular Degeneration. It is important to detect eye conditions quickly before they can irreversibly claim one’s vision.

Outside of the optometrist’s office, your health habits play an important role in determining your overall eye health. Here are some healthy strategies to improve your eye health and avoid eye-related injuries.

  • You should eat well to ensure you’re eyes receive proper nutrition. Some eye-health foods include dark leafy greens such as kale, collard greens, and spinach for their vitamin content and fish such as salmon, tuna, and trout for their omega-3 fatty acid content.
  • Physical exercise and maintaining a healthy weight are necessary steps in assuring your eyes are healthy. Physical exercise increases blood flow to the eyes and lowers intraocular pressure. Maintaining a healthy weight lowers the risk of eye conditions such as diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, and glaucoma.
  • You should quit smoking or never start to protect your eye health. Smoking increases the prevalence of eye conditions, such as dry eye and blurry vision, as well as eye diseases. Quitting smoking will improve the damage caused by smoking.
  • You should wear eye protection when performing yard or housework. Every year, there are thousands of emergency room visits due to eye injuries sustained from chemicals in household cleaners and debris from yard work.
  • The blue light emitted from computer screens, smartphones, and other electronic devices are responsible for dry eyes, blurry vision, and eye fatigue. That’s why it’s important to take regular breaks when working on the computer. The 20-20-20 rule recommends that every 20 minutes, one should look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

 

Daily vs. Monthly Contact Lenses: Which are right for you?

Consumers have an overwhelming number of options when choosing the right contact lens for their unique vision needs. One of the most important considerations when selecting a contact lens is, “should I purchase daily or monthly contact lenses?”. Each of these lens types has its benefits and drawbacks. After learning the nuances between each lens, you will be well-equipped to make the right purchasing decision.

Monthly contact lenses used to be the standard when contact lenses first hit the consumer market. They are designed to be worn each day for about 30 days before they need to be discarded. The lenses are taken out every night and need to be stored in a cleaning solution. Monthly contacts are thicker and more durable than their daily counterparts.

Daily contact lenses come in blister packs and are designed to be discarded every day after use. Their disposable nature means they do not require cleaning. Daily contacts are lighter and more comfortable compared to monthly contact lenses.

Benefits vs. Costs

We’ll compare the benefits and costs between daily and monthly contacts by their fundamental differences.

Convenience

  • Daily contacts require no cleaning and are less likely to be overworn. Their replaceability makes them great for active lifestyles, where getting dirt in your eye can be fixed by simply replacing the contact lens.
  • Daily contacts are not safe to sleep in. Wearing daily contacts to bed will put you at risk for an eye infection. Monthy contacts, on the other hand, are safer to leave in at night.

Comfort

  • Daily contacts are thinner, which is conducive to reduced dryness and irritation on the eyes, as there’s increased oxygen permeability and water content.

Cost

  • Daily contacts are costlier upfront than monthly contacts. Those who wear contacts every day will spend more money overall on daily contacts.
  • Daily contacts can be cheaper for those that have light prescriptions and wear contacts infrequently.

Construction

  • Monthly contacts are more durable than daily contacts. The increase in lens density allows monthly contacts to be available in higher prescriptions.
  • Although monthly contacts are more durable than daily contacts, monthly contacts run the risk of over-wearing due to their longer use time.

Eco-Friendly

  • Monthly contacts are less wasteful than daily contacts, as they are disposed of less frequently. Throwing out old lenses has an accumulative effect; monthly contacts are thrown out about 12 times compared to every day with daily contacts!

Which One Should You Choose?

The decision of which contact is best ultimately resides on what your unique needs are. Talk to your optometrist for recommended brands based on your prescription and lifestyle.

What Is Glaucoma?

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a family of eye diseases where an abundance of pressure build-up in the eye causes damage to the optical nerve, the part of your eye responsible for sending images to your brain. In most cases, the pressure build-up is due to areas in the front of the eye becoming insufficient in draining vital fluids. The destruction of the optical nerve eventually leads to permanent vision loss and blindness.

Signs & Symptoms

Glaucoma is a clandestine eye condition. The disease often has no warning signs or pain associated with its onset. The pressure build-up in the eye is so gradual that symptoms are not perceived until the disease enters an advanced state. Vision loss usually occurs along the peripheral of one’s sight, leading many to unconsciously compensate by turning their head in a way that lets them see normally. One should promptly go to the emergency room or seek an optometrist if they experience any symptoms of glaucoma, including severe headaches, eye pain, and blurred vision.

Risks

Since glaucoma is difficult to detect through symptoms alone, it’s essential to be conscious of its risk factors. Risk factors of glaucoma include being over the age of 60, genetics, having a family history of glaucoma, having severe nearsightedness or farsightedness, and having other diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Those with multiple risk factors should schedule regular dilated eye exams.

Treatments

Regular dilated eye exams are essential to the discovery of glaucoma. Early discovery of glaucoma can facilitate effective treatment. Glaucoma treatment options include special eye drops, oral medications, laser surgery, and microsurgery. All treatment options perform one of two things, they either lower the creation of fluid in the eye or increase the flow of fluid in the eye. Other prevention measures include being aware of one’s family eye health history, getting regular exercise, eating healthy, not smoking, and wearing eye protection. Schedule regular eye exams with your optometrist to ensure you are not at risk of glaucoma.

Blue Light: How to Protect Your Eyes from Electronic Devices

With the adoption of smartphones, tablets, and other computing devices, we find ourselves with an increasing threat to our eye health. Blue light is a concern for most of us, as it has proven harmful effects on our sleep and may contribute to eye problems such as digital eye strain, blurry vision, dry eyes, and possible retina damage. We’ll go over what blue light is, where it comes from, and how we can protect ourselves from it.

 

What is Blue Light?

Blue light refers to one of the several colors in the visible light spectrum. Each color has different wavelengths and energy levels. On one side of the visible light spectrum, red has the longest wavelength and the least amount of energy. On the opposite side of the spectrum, violet has the shortest wavelength and most amount of energy. When combined, these colors become the white light we see, with blue light being a large component.

 

The largest source of blue light comes from the sun. This light is beneficial during the daytime, as sunlight helps boost alertness, mood, and reaction times. Blue light also comes from our electronic devices, such as fluorescent lights, LED televisions, CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs, computer monitors, smartphones, and tablet screens. The blue light exposure received from electronic devices is much smaller than the blue light received from the sun, but the timing and length of the exposure are what causes eye problems.

 

Where Blue Light Comes From?

The largest source of blue light comes from the sun. This light is beneficial during the daytime, as sunlight helps boost alertness, mood, and reaction times. Blue light also comes from our electronic devices, such as fluorescent lights, LED televisions, CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs, computer monitors, smartphones, and tablet screens. The blue light exposure received from electronic devices is much smaller than the blue light received from the sun, but the timing and length of the exposure are what causes eye problems

 

How can we protect ourselves from blue light?

Blue light is detrimental in many ways, mostly to our sleep. Our circadian rhythm is disturbed when we observe blue light before bedtime. Any light can block the creation of melatonin, a hormone produced by the brain in response to darkness, with blue light doing so more powerfully. Therefore, shutting down electronics before bedtime by at least 30 minutes is essential to getting a night of good sleep.

 

Many desktop displays, smartphones, and tablets have blue light filters, sometimes known as night mode, built into them or have applications you can download to achieve the effect. Blue light filters help cut down on blue light exposure by reducing screen brightness and blue light emissions from devices. Blue light filters are an easy way to cut down on blue light exposure by going after the source.

 

Blue light-blocking computer glasses are orange filtered glasses that shield the eyes from blue light sources. Computer glasses work great for those who use electronic devices at night or for an extended time. Computer glasses are available in both prescription and non-prescription and can be equipped with glare-reducing anti-reflective coatings or photochromic lenses. Talk to your eye doctor or optician for advice on what computer glasses will work best for you.

What is Dry Eye?

man suffering from dry eyes 640

Dry eye syndrome is a condition that is characterized by a chronic lack of sufficient lubrication and moisture on the surface of the eye and can be especially prominent during dry, winter months. Dry eye is common; with signs and symptoms that can include persistent dryness & scratchiness, a burning sensation on your eye(s), “foreign body sensation” or the feeling that something is in your eye(s), blurry vision and, surprisingly, overstimulated tear glands.

Since dry eye syndrome is so common, anyone can get it. If you are experiencing dry eye, it could be for a number of reasons such as your glands don’t make enough tears to keep your eyes wet, your tears dry up too fast, or your tears just don’t work well to keep your eyes wet. You could also be experiencing dry eye syndrome due to other risk factors.

These risk factors include: computer use, we tend to blink our eyes less fully and frequently during screen times which lead to greater tear evaporation; contact lens wear, dry eye discomfort is a primary reason why people discontinue contact lens wear; aging, dry eye is common at any age, but becomes increasingly more common later in life, especially after age 50; menopause, post-menopausal women are at greater risk for dry eye than men of the same age; indoor environment, air conditioning, ceiling fans, etc. can all decrease indoor humidity and/or hasten tear evaporation; outdoor environment, arid, dry, or windy climates and conditions can increase risk of dry eye; frequent flying, air in the cabins of planes is extremely dry and can lead to dry eye problems; smoking; health conditions, certain systemic diseases such as diabetes, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid associated diseases, and Sjorgen’s syndrome contribute to dry eye problems; medications, both prescription and non-prescription medicines can increase the risk of dry eye; and eye lid problems, lagophthalmos, or incomplete closure of eyelids while blinking or sleeping, can cause severe dry eyes.

Since dry eye is an ongoing condition, treatments may be unable to cure it. Despite this, the symptoms of dry eye can usually be successfully managed. Your eye care professional may recommend artificial tears that can alleviate the dry, scratchy feeling and foreign body sensation of dry eye. Be aware that artificial tears cannot be used during contact lens wear so you may need to remove your lenses before using the drops. Be sure to check the label and talk with your doctor about specific eye drop instructions.

If your dry eye is more serious, your eye doctor may give you a prescription for eye drops that can help your eyes make more tears. Your doctor may also suggest taking a different medicine if a medicine you take for another health condition is causing the dry eye. If something in your life or environment is causing your dry eye, or making it worse, your eye care professional may suggest some lifestyle changes to help protect your eyes. These lifestyle changes could include: quitting smoking, avoiding wind and air conditioning, using a humidifier at home to keep the air from getting too dry, limiting screen time and taking frequent breaks, wearing wraparound sunglasses when outside, drinking 8 to 10 glasses of water per day, and getting about 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night.

If you are suffering from dry eye, you are not alone. In fact, it is estimated that over 3 million dry eye cases are reported each year. Talk to your eye doctor about your dry eye and ask about some treatment options at your next eye appointment!

 

8 Tips to Relieve Winter Dry Eyes

Whether you live in a climate with cold winter weather or you are planning a ski trip up north, winter can be a challenge if you suffer from dry eyes. Dry, cool air, cold winds and even drier indoor heating can cause eye irritation, burning, itchiness and redness, and sometimes even excessively watery eyes as more tears are produced to compensate for the dryness. Many people have a chronic feeling that they have something in their eye and some even experience blurred vision. These symptoms can be debilitating!

Dry eyes is one of the most common complaints eye doctors get from patients during the winter season, especially in the cooler climates. That’s why we’d like to share some tips on how to relieve dry eye discomfort, and how to know when your condition is serious enough to come in for an evaluation.

Tips to Relieve Winter Dry Eyes:

  1. Keep eyes moist using artificial tears or eye drops. You can apply these a few times each day when the eyes are feeling dry or irritated. If over-the-counter drops don’t help or if you have chronic dry eyes, speak to your eye doctor about finding the best drops for you. Since not all artificial tears are the same, knowing the cause of your dry eye will help your eye doctor determine which brand is best suited for your eyes.
  2. Use a humidifier to counteract the drying effects of indoor heaters or generally dry air.
  3. Point car vents or indoor heaters away from your face when the heat is on. Try to keep your distance from direct sources of heating, especially if they blow out the heat.
  4. Drink a lot! Hydrating your body will also hydrate your eyes.
  5. Protect your eyes outdoors with sunglasses or goggles – the bigger the better! Larger, even wrap-around glasses as well as a hat with a wide brim will keep the wind and other elements out of your eyes. If you wear goggles for winter sports, make sure they fit well and cover a large surface area.
  6. Soothe dry eyes using a warm compress and never rub them! Rubbing your eyes will increase irritation and may lead to infection if the hands are not clean.
  7. Give your eyes a digital break. People blink less during screen time which is why extensive computer use can lead to dry eyes. Follow the 20/20/20 rule by taking a break every 20 minutes to look 20 feet away for 20 seconds and make sure you blink!
  8. For contact lens wearers: If you wear contact lenses, dry eyes can be particularly debilitating as the contact lenses can cause even further dryness and irritation. Contact lens rewetting drops can help your eyes feel better and may also allow you to see more clearly. Not all eyedrops are appropriate for use with contact lenses, so ask your optometrist which eyedrop is compatible with your contacts and cleaning solution. If rewetting drops don’t help, consider opting for glasses when your dry eyes are bad, and speak to your optometrist about which brands of contact lenses are better for dry eyes. Many people find dry eye improvement when they switch to daily single use contact lenses.

Chronic Dry Eyes or Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye syndrome is a chronic condition in which the eyes do not produce enough tear film, or do not produce the quality of tear film needed to properly keep the eyes moist. While winter weather can make this condition worse, it is often present all year round. If you find that the tips above do not alleviate your discomfort or symptoms, it may be time to see a optometrist to see if your condition requires more effective medical treatment.

Diabetes and Your Eyes

Diabetes is becoming much more prevalent around the globe. According to the International Diabetes Federation, approximately 425 million adults were living with diabetes in the year 2017 and 352 million more people were at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. By 2045 the number of people diagnosed is expected to rise to 629 million.

Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness as well as heart attacks, stroke, kidney failure, neuropathy (nerve damage) and lower limb amputation. In fact, in 2017, diabetes was implicated in 4 million deaths worldwide. Nevertheless preventing these complications from diabetes is possible with proper treatment, medication and regular medical screenings as well as improving your diet, physical activity and adopting a healthy lifestyle.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic disease in which the hormone insulin is either underproduced or ineffective in its ability to regulate blood sugar. Uncontrolled diabetes leads to hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, which damages many systems in the body such as the blood vessels and the nervous system.

How Does Diabetes Affect The Eyes?

Diabetic eye disease is a group of conditions which are caused, or worsened, by diabetes; including: diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, glaucoma and cataracts. Diabetes increases the risk of cataracts by four times, and can increase dryness and reduce cornea sensation.

In diabetic retinopathy, over time, the tiny blood vessels within the eyes become damaged, causing leakage, poor oxygen circulation, then scarring of the sensitive tissue within the retina, which can result in further cell damage and scarring.

The longer you have diabetes, and the longer your blood sugar levels remain uncontrolled, the higher the chances of developing diabetic eye disease. Unlike many other vision-threatening conditions which are more prevalent in older individuals, diabetic eye disease is one of the main causes of vision loss in the younger, working-age population. Unfortunately, these eye conditions can lead to blindness if not caught early and treated. In fact, 2.6% of blindness worldwide is due to diabetes.

Diabetic Retinopathy

As mentioned above, diabetes can result in cumulative damage to the blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive tissue located at the back of the eye. This is called diabetic retinopathy.

The retina is responsible for converting the light it receives into visual signals to the optic nerve in the brain. High blood sugar levels can cause the blood vessels in the retina to leak or hemorrhage, causing bleeding and distorting vision. In advanced stages, new blood vessels may begin to grow on the retinal surface causing scarring and further damaging cells in the retina. Diabetic retinopathy can eventually lead to blindness.

Signs and Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy

The early stages of diabetic retinopathy often have no symptoms, which is why it’s vitally important to have frequent diabetic eye exams. As it progresses you may start to notice the following symptoms:

  • Blurred or fluctuating vision or vision loss
  • Floaters (dark spots or strings that appear to float in your visual field)
  • Blind spots
  • Color vision loss

There is no pain associated with diabetic retinopathy to signal any issues. If not controlled, as retinopathy continues it can cause retinal detachment and macular edema, two other serious conditions that threaten vision. Again, there are often NO signs or symptoms until more advanced stages.

A person with diabetes can do their part to control their blood sugar level. Following the physician’s medication plan, as well as diet and exercise recommendations can help slow the progression of diabetic retinopathy.

Retinal Detachment

Scar tissues caused by the breaking and forming of blood vessels in advanced retinopathy can lead to a retinal detachment in which the retina pulls away from the underlying tissue. This condition is a medical emergency and must be treated immediately as it can lead to permanent vision loss. Signs of a retinal detachment include a sudden onset of floaters or flashes in the vision.

Diabetic Macular Edema (DME)

Diabetic macular edema occurs when the macula, a part of the retina responsible for clear central vision, becomes full of fluid (edema). It is a complication of diabetic retinopathy that occurs in about half of patients, and causes vision loss.

Treatment for Diabetic Retinopathy and Diabetic Macular Edema

While vision loss from diabetic retinopathy and DME often can’t be restored, with early detection there are some preventative treatments available. Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (when the blood vessels begin to grow abnormally) can be treated by laser surgery, injections or a procedure called vitrectomy in which the vitreous gel in the center of the eye is removed and replaced. This will treat bleeding caused by ruptured blood vessels. DME can be treated with injection therapy, laser surgery or corticosteroids.

Prevent Vision Loss from Diabetes

The best way to prevent vision loss from diabetic eye disease is early detection and treatment. Since there may be no symptoms in the early stages, regular diabetic eye exams are critical for early diagnosis. In fact diabetics are now sometimes monitored by their health insurance to see if they are getting regular eye exams and premium rates can be affected by how regularly the patients get their eyes checked. Keeping diabetes under control through exercise, diet, medication and regular screenings will help to reduce the chances of vision loss and blindness from diabetes.

April is Women's Eye Health and Safety Month

Hey women! Did you know that women are more likely to suffer from vision problems and are at higher risk of permanent vision loss than men? Well 91% of the women surveyed recently didn’t know that, which means that many of them aren’t taking the necessary precautions to prevent eye damage and vision loss.  

According to a recent study, the statistics for many of the major vision problems show that women have a higher percentage of incidence than men. These include:

  • Age-related Macular Degeneration 65%
  • Cataracts 61%
  • Glaucoma 61%
  • Refractive Error 56%
  • Vision Impairment 63%

Women are also more susceptible to develop chronic dry eye, partially because it is often associated with other health issues that are more common in women such as ocular rosacea which is three times more prevalent in women.  Hormonal changes during pregnancy and menopause can also contribute to dry eye.  

It’s important for women to know the risks for eye-related diseases and vision impairment and the steps they can take to prevent eventual vision loss.  Here are some ways that you can help to protect your eyes and save your eyesight:

  • Find out about family history of eye diseases and conditions.
  • Protect your eyes from the sun by wearing 100% UV blocking sunglasses when outdoors.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Consume a healthy diet with proper nutrition and special eye health supplements as prescribed by an eye doctor.
  • Adhere to contact lens hygiene and safety.  
  • Adhere to cosmetic hygiene and safety precautions. 
  • Protect your eyes against extended exposure to blue light from computers, smartphones and LED lamps. 
  • If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant and have diabetes, see an eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam. In women who have diabetes, diabetic retinopathy can accelerate quickly during pregnancy and can present a risk for the baby as well. 

Mothers are often charged with caring for the eye health of the entire family, but too often their own eye health needs fall to the wayside. It is critical that mothers take care of their eyes and overall health so that they can be in the best condition to care for their families. 

Speak to your eye care professional about your personal eye health and vision risks and the precautions and measures you should take to protect your eyes.  Encourage the other women in your life to do so as well.  Once vision is lost, it often can’t be regained and there are many steps you can take to prevent it with proper knowledge and awareness.  

The most important way to prevent vision loss is to ensure you schedule regular eye exams. Don’t wait for symptoms to appear as many eye issues are painless and symptomless, and sometimes by the time you notice symptoms, vision loss is untreatable. 

Understanding Eye Color

eyes green close up woman

Eye color is a hereditary trait that depends on the genes of both parents, as well as a little bit of mystery. The color of the eye is based on the pigments in the iris, which is a colored ring of muscle located at the center of the eye (around the pupil) that helps to control the amount of light that comes into your eye. Eye color falls on a spectrum of color that can range from dark brown, to gray, to green, to blue, with a whole lot of variation in between. 

Genetics

The genetics of eye color are anything but straightforward. In fact children are often born with a different eye color than either of their parents. For some time the belief was that two blue-eyed parents could not have a brown-eyed child, however, while it’s not common, this combination can and does occur. Genetic research in regards to eye color is an ongoing pursuit and while they have identified certain genes that play a role, researchers still do not know exactly how many genes are involved and to what extent each gene affects the final eye color.

The Iris

Looking at it simply, the color of the eye is based on the amount of the pigment melanin located in the iris. Large amounts of melanin result in brown eyes, while blue eyes result from smaller amounts of the pigment. This is why babies that are born with blue eyes (who often have smaller amounts of melanin until they are about a year old) often experience a darkening of their eye color as they grow and develop more melanin in the iris. In adults across the globe, the most common eye color worldwide is brown, while lighter colors such as blue, green and hazel are found predominantly in the Caucasian population. 

Abnormal Eye Color

Sometimes the color of a person’s eyes are not normal. Here are some interesting causes of this phenomenon.

Heterochromia, for example, is a condition in which the two eyes are different colors, or part of one eye is a different color. This can be caused by genetic inconsistencies, issues that occur during the development of the eye, or acquired later in life due to an injury or disease. 

Ocular albinism is a condition in which the eye is a very light color due to low levels of pigmentation in the iris, which is the result of a genetic mutation. It is usually accompanied by serious vision problems. Oculocutaneous albinism is a similar mutation in the body’s ability to produce and store melanin that affects skin and hair color in addition to the eyes.

Eye color can also be affected by certain medications. For example, a certain glaucoma eye drop is known to darken light irises to brown, as well as lengthen and darken eyelashes.

Eye Color – It’s More Than Meets the Eye

It is known that light eyes are more sensitive to light, which is why it might be hard for someone with blue or green eyes to go out into the sun without sunglasses. Light eyes have also shown to be a risk factor for certain conditions including age-related macular degeneration (AMD).  

Color Contact Lenses

While we can’t pick our eye color, we can always play around with different looks using colored contact lenses. Just be sure that you get a proper prescription for any contact lenses, including cosmetic colored lenses, from an eye doctor! Wearing contact lenses that were obtained without a prescription could be dangerous to your eyes and your vision.  

 

 

 

Holiday Season Shopping: Are Nerf Guns Safe for the Eyes?

Nerf guns or blasters come in a remarkable number of shapes and sizes and have become incredibly popular for use in the home and even in large scale “Nerf Wars”. However publicity surrounding the toy has not been all positive. Many parents out there are questioning the safety of the toy foam guns, particularly to the eyes, before making the purchase.

The question of safety ultimately comes down to the user. Nerf darts are relatively soft, foamy and not inherently dangerous, but if shot in the wrong way, they could cause pain or even serious injury. This is particularly true of the eyes because they are a vulnerable organ that can be damaged easily upon impact. Injuries from even a soft projectile could include corneal abrasions (surface scratches), bleeding, cataracts and even retinal detachment which can lead to permanent vision loss.

Nevertheless, Nerf guns are fun and can even be used to help motor development and other skills, so with the right guidelines, children can learn to use them safely and benefit from the enjoyment they provide.

Want surefire eye safety? Wear safety glasses!

The best defense for your eyes is safety glasses. This is the one way you can be sure that you or your child’s eyes are truly safe during Nerf shooting. We strongly recommend safety glasses be worn during any play that involves projectile objects, particularly for small children or during serious games such as Nerf Wars.

General rules of Nerf Gun play:

  1. Never shoot at the face.
  2. Never look into the barrel of the nerf gun, even if you think it isn’t loaded.
  3. Avoid walking around with your finger on the trigger until you are ready to point and aim at the proper target.
  4. Only shoot others that are “playing” and are aware that you are aiming at them.
  5. Don’t shoot from a moving vehicle (including a bicycle, skateboard, rollerblades, etc.).
  6. Don’t shoot at a moving vehicle.
  7. Never shoot at a close range.
  8. Never leave loaded gun in reach of a child or individual that is not able to use the toy properly and safely.

To be safe, all toy guns that shoot projectiles should be treated as a dangerous toy in order to ensure proper usage and precautions. Yes, Nerf guns can cause serious eye damage and even vision loss, but these type of injuries can be caused by many “harmless” objects as well. Before you purchase a toy like this for your child, ask yourself whether the child is old enough and mature enough to understand the safety issues involved and to be able to use it responsibly.