The Food and Drug Administration and the Consumer Product Safety Commission is warning shoppers of toys that can cause injury to children.
The CPSC reports there were more than a quarter-million toy-related injuries that needed treatment in emergency rooms last year. Many of those injuries involved damage to the eye and required surgery.
Jacksonville mother Carrie Ayer admits she didn't feel the need to worry about eye-injuring toys for her children.
"No, not really. I just bought toys that were age-appropriate at the time," said Ayer. "I watched to make sure they didn’t hurt each other.”
"Eye injuries can occur any time of year, but especially when getting new toys this time of year," said Dr. Petra Duran-Gehring, of UF Health Jacksonville. "We tend to see a lot more of the eye injuries."
Duran-Gehring says flying objects are a medical concern, but so is the instant impact from a laser.
"Kids are curious. I’ve got two of my own. They’re always interested in things, especially things they’re not supposed to have," said Duran-Gehring. "Even if a just-opened product inadvertently turns on while pointing at their eye, it could actually do a lot of damage to their eye, purely by their own curiosity."
The FDA also released a statement on laser toy safety, concluding that the concentrated light in laser beams deteriorates eyesight and can even cause blindness. In particular, children's laser toys concerned the FDA, as anyone that comes into contact with the light, directly or indirectly, is at risk.
One FDA spokesperson said, "Because advertisers promote them as playthings, parents and kids alike may believe they're safe to use."
Toys that made the FDA's warning list include:
- Lasers mounted on toy guns that can be used for "aiming"
- Spinning tops that project laser beams while they spin
- Hand-held lasers used during play as "lightsabers"
- Lasers intended for entertainment that create optical effects in an open room
To protect your children, the American Academy of Ophthalmology listed precautions:
- Labels include compliance statement, ensure meets requirements, including power limitations
- Never aim or shine laser directly at anyone (including animals), or reflective surfaces
- FDA warns bright beams can startle and cause accidents
These warnings are meant to remind parents to give children proper instruction and appropriate supervision.