Fireworks, COVID-19, and the risk of eye injury: 10,000 reasons to leave fireworks to the professionals!

Photo by Nicolas Tissot on Unsplash

Every year, about 10,000 people are rushed to the emergency department for fireworks injuries. Ophthalmologists – physicians who specialize in medical and surgical eye care – treat thousands of patients who suffer a range of fireworks-related injuries, from cuts and bruises to damaged corneas, retinas, and ruptured eyeballs.


Many people believe that consumer fireworks are safe. But here’s the explosive truth: Most injuries are caused by legal fireworks parents buy for their children, such as sparklers, firecrackers, bottle rockets, and Roman candles.

Due to COVID-19 social distancing, many public fireworks have been cancelled or postponed (Philadelphia regional listings are here.)  Consumer fireworks sales have increased dramatically (CNN | USA Today), and thus the potential for eye injuries skyrockets as well. 

To help reduce the number of potentially blinding fireworks accidents this holiday, please celebrate only with the pros or via an online show. July 4th can be complete without using consumer fireworks. The safest way to view fireworks is to watch a professional show.  Keep safe distance, wear protective eyewear, and do not touch or handle duds and misfires. 

American Academy of Ophthalmology Fireworks Eye Safety

Consumer fireworks may have fleeting enjoyment. But the risks of permanent injury to the eye and body are great. 65% of all fireworks injuries are to bystanders. It’s the time of year which ophthalmologists dread seeing patients in the ER.

Instagram image @asot_trauma

If you experience a fireworks eye injury, minimize the damage to the eye and seek medical attention immediately. If fireworks injury occurs:

  • Do not rub the eye. Rubbing may make the injury worse
  • Do not attempt to rinse the eye
  • Do not apply pressure to the eye
  • Do not remove objects from the eye
  • Do not apply ointments or take pain medications before seeking medical help

Please also see the excellent EyeSmart article from the American Academy of Ophthalmology on Fireworks Eye Safety.

The best way to enjoy fireworks 2020 is from a socially distanced venue or one of the many shows online!

Please stay safe! #ProtectingSight


  1. Dear Ravi and Ganga,

    I like three of us to think about position paper in Ico. Yesterday night I wrote to Prof. Gangadhar Sundar, I just found this on 3 rd July, hence clubbing both the mails. This is what I wrote yesterday night.

    Dear Ganga,

    I have taken the responsibility of doing a POSITION PAPER ON PELLET/RUBBER BULLET (or any crowd dispersing activity producing blindness) as it is there in ICO WEB SITE. I already discussed with Interim President and CEO.

    Let us work on the peers who can be part of this committee from the six continents. I have included ICO Position paper on Fire works.

    We also have to do advocacy on fire works, guidelines for ocular trauma.

    >>> Prof.Dr.S.Natarajan >>> Awarded The Padma Shri by the President of India >>> PRESIDENT , APOTS,(ASIA PACIFIC OPHTHALMIC TRAUMA SOCIETY) >>> O M A G >>> ( Organised Medicine Academic Guild- with 20 medical organisations) >>> IMMEDIATE PAST PRESIDENT, AIOS – All India Ophthalmological Society >>> PRESIDENT , SANKARA NETHRALAYA ALUMNI. Board of Trustee, INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL OF OPHTHALMOLOGY(ICO) >>> Secretary General, Asian Eye Genetics Consortium >>> Chairman and Managing Director – Aditya Jyot Eye Hospital Pvt.Ltd. >>> Specialized in Vitreous, Retina & Macular Surgery >>> Managing Trustee, Aditya Jyot Foundation For Twinkling Little Eyes(Not For Profit NGO)


  2. Dear Naty & Dr Goal Happy to work with you both on this Please let m know what I can do  Its a cause worth pursuing and following through Ganga Gangadhara Sundar, DO, FRCSEd, FAMS Diplomate, The American Board of Ophthalmology Head & Senior Consultant, Orbit & Oculofacial Surgery Special Interest: Ophthalmic Oncology Dept of Ophthalmology Adjunct Faculty, Dept of Pediatrics National University Hospital, SingaporeChair, Academic & Scientific Committee, Asia Pacific Ophthalmic Trauma Society (APOTS)President, Singapore Society of Ophthalmic Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery  (SSOPRS)

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