Two are nearly blinded by Lag Ba’omer air-rifle hijinks

Niv Nir, a 13-year-old girl from Gan Yavne, and Omer Sabag, a 23-year-old man from Ashdod hurt in identical incidents.

May 1, 2013 04:21
2 minute read.
OMER SABAG (left) and Niv Nir (right), who suffered similar eye injuries this week

Air rifle victims 370. (photo credit: Courtesy Kaplan Medical Center)


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A teenage girl and a young man almost lost their sight earlier this week in two identical incidents involving BB-guns (air rifles) during Lag Ba’omer campfires.

Ophthalmologists at Rehovot’s Kaplan Medical Center urged parents to keep such weapons out of their children’s hands, as they can cause irreversible damage to the eyes.

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Niv Nir, a 13-year-old girl from Gan Yavne, and Omer Sabag, a 23-year-old man from Ashdod who formerly served in an IDF engineering unit, were hospitalized on Sunday in adjacent rooms.

Prof. Ayala Pollack, who heads Kaplan’s eye department, said there was a shocking similarity between the two incidents. Air rifle projectiles caused significant damage to both patients’ eyeballs and nearly blinded them. Both may need surgery in the coming days.

Sabag was due to start his bachelor’s degree in business administration. He left his home on Sunday night to celebrate Lag Ba’omer with a friend.

“I was talking to the friend on my cellphone when a child fired a BB-gun toward his friend behind me, but the projectile hit me in the eye,” he recounted. “The boy was very frightened and ran to me. I calmed him and rushed to Kaplan’s emergency room.”

Nir, a junior high school student, was with a school friend when she saw boys playing with a BB-gun.

“I thought they didn’t have any bullets in them or anything that could endanger us,” she said. “But then suddenly, I saw the gun was aimed at me, and a pellet smashed through my glasses. I started to shriek from pain.”

Her frantic friends called home, and her parents rushed her to Kaplan’s emergency room as well.

She said she had recently seen schoolmates playing with air guns, but had never dreamed that she would be hurt by one of them.

Dr. Amir Hadyar, a Kaplan ophthalmologist, said both had been seriously hurt in the left eye. In Nir’s case, her plastic eyeglasses had shattered, and the pieces caused a significant laceration of her cornea and invasive damage to her eye.

“We inserted a contact lens into her eye to bring the edges of the cut together,” Hadyar said. “We hope it will succeed.

She may have to have surgery in the near future.”

As for Sabag, the force of the pellet caused trauma and massive bleeding to the inside of the eye, and he couldn’t see.

The young man is getting medication aimed at absorbing the hemorrhage. After that, the doctors will assess whether surgery is necessary.

The Kaplan doctors called on the public, parents and educators, as well as law enforcement authorities, to curtail the use of BB-guns.

“They seem innocent, but the results can be very dangerous.

They are not games and not safe,” the doctors said.

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