Watch your eyes on Independence Day

Flourescent glow-sticks, snow-spray foams, and fireworks can all cause a holiday hospitalization.

fireworks 88 (photo credit: )
fireworks 88
(photo credit: )
Celebrate Independence Day next week, but stay away from liquid-filled, fluorescent stick lights, plastic hammers, snow-spray foams and fireworks - all of which have been documented by Beersheba ophthalmologists as causing significant injuries requiring hospitalization. The April issue of Harefuah, the Hebrew-language journal of the Israel Medical Association, contains an article by Drs. Tova Kratz, Alena Petrov, Pavel Polyakov, Jaime Levy and Tova Lifschitz of Soroka University Medical Center and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev's health sciences faculty. They studied the files of all patients referred to Soroka's Ophthalmology Department close to Independence Day between 1998 and 2005. If a patient sustained an injury from a device during the celebrations, data on their age, sex, injured eye, diagnosis, the item that caused the injury and treatment were collected. Of 437 patients in the study, 52 suffered an injury directly caused by one of these "celebration devices." According to the authors of the article, the three most common eye injuries were erosion of the cornea and of the conjunctiva (tissues around the eyeball) and superficial punctate keratitis, a corneal inflammation of unknown etiology. Other injuries included foreign bodies in the cornea and conjunctiva, traumatic infection of the iris, raised intraocular pressure and hemorrhaging of conjunctival tissues. Almost all the patients needed medical treatment, and some of the conditions were very painful and took a long time to heal. The researchers found that patients injured by celebration devices just prior to, during and after Independence Day in the earlier years of the period studied comprised an amazing 27.9 percent of all patients examined during this period in Soroka's Ophthalmology Department; recently the rate has risen to almost 40%. Snow sprays contain dangerous ingredients including calcium carbonate, sorbitan, propane and isobutane, which are acidic and can cause serious harm. Studies have shown that most of these sprays come with no information about the factory where they were manufactured - "raising the suspicion that there are products manufactured and sold without supervision that are liable to contain dangerous substances," the authors warned. The Soroka doctors urged that laws and regulations on the use of such devices be enforced and that the public's awareness of the harm they cause be boosted.