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fireworks Dr. MacKewiz and his staff at the Bear Eye Center suggest that families and friends stay away from private firework use this year and instead enjoy professional displays to protect and preserve eyesight.

Each year over the holiday thousands of adults and children are seriously injured as a result of fireworks and pyrotechnic devices. Many burns and injuries affect eyesight, permanently damaging and in some cases blinding the victims.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), an estimated 20-25 percent of fireworks injuries are to the eyes. Most of these eye injuries were contusions and lacerations. About two-thirds of the fireworks-related injuries were burns, and most of the burns involved the hands, eyes and head/face.

In 2003, four persons died and an estimated 9,300 were treated in emergency departments for fireworks-related injuries in the U.S. About 45 percent of persons injured were children ages 14 years and younger. Children ages 5-9 years have the highest injury rate for fireworks-related injuries. Most injuries involved firecrackers, rockets, and sparklers.

Believe it or not, sparklers are the highest cause of fireworks injuries for children under five requiring trips to the emergency room. Sparklers can easily burn skin or ignite clothes since they heat up to 1000 degrees F.

And, surprising to many, bystanders at home displays are not safe from injury. Data from the United States Eye Injury Registry shows that bystanders are injured by fireworks one-half of the time.

Be safe and protect your eyes this 4th of July. Go to professional displays and enjoy the spectacle in the sky.