December 19, 1995
Media Contact: Marc Kusintz
Phone: (410) 955-8665

Christmas decorations and toys meant to put a sparkle in a child's eye can cause it injury instead, warns a physician at Johns Hopkins' Wilmer Eye Institute.

Air guns, toy cannons that shoot plastic missiles and street hockey pucks are among the toys that can ruin the holidays by stealing sight, says Matthew W. MacCumber, M.D., Ph.D., assistant chief of service at Wilmer.

"I've seen injuries caused by a variety of toys, including darts, toy swords and projectiles shot from toy cannons," says MacCumber. "Parents should bypass toys that can be used as weapons or that shoot projectiles at high speed. But if they do buy such toys, parents should give their children plastic eye goggles for protection.

Yuletide dangers also lurk for adults, according to MacCumber.

"When putting up a Christmas tree, keep faces away from the branches. A scrape in the eye can cause a serious infection."

And trees should be decorated with non-glass ornaments, which don't shatter into sharp, eye-piercing slivers when dropped, he says.

Glitter sprayed in the eyes should be washed out immediately and followed by a trip to an eye doctor as soon as possible, says MacCumber. Anyone who sustains an eye injury should hold a small paper cup over their eye to prevent further injury on the way to the hospital.

Even sledding down a hill can be a potential sight robber if the path includes trees with low branches, says MacCumber, who is the director of a national conference on eye emergencies scheduled for Feb. 2 and 3 in Baltimore.

-- JHMI --
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