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Canadian ophthalmologists warn of eye-poking holiday gifts

Only 16 per cent of Canadians consider eye safety and health when purchasing toys, the Canadian Ophthalmological Society found.
Toys to avoid, according to the Canadian Ophthalmological Society: lasers, sharp toys and "flying projectile toys."

The official Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot range model air rifle is certainly not something Canadian eye doctors are recommending as a child’s gift this holiday season.

The Canadian Ophthalmological Society issued a statement Dec. 7, warning the public that many children end up in the emergency room with toy-related eye injuries each year. The eye doctors want Canadians to be more attentive to eye safety and health.

"With all the excitement during the holidays, it's easy to forget about basic safety; however, eye injuries among children are one of the major causes of visual impairment," said society president Dr. Phil Hooper.

"That's why eye care professionals recommend avoiding toys that pose a high risk of eye injuries such as lasers, sharp toys, aerosols like silly string, and flying or projectile toys, especially if safety glasses are not worn,” added Hopper.

The society says it has surveyed Canadians and found only 16 per cent of them report shopping for toys with eye safety in mind. Additionally, parents need to be attentive to video games and tablets as gifts as prolonged screen time increases the risk of myopia (nearsightedness) in children, the society said.

“The survey also revealed that since the pandemic began, parents report that their children are spending about 4.4 hours in front of a screen on average, which is 1.2 hours more than they did prior to the pandemic,” the statement said.

A key tip from the society, aside from common sense, is to ensure gifts have been inspected and approved by the proper regulatory bodies, including the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act, Canadian Standards Association, or the American Society for Testing and Materials.