“A Christmas Story” taught us that handheld toy guns can make you “shoot your eye out.”
Many kids, including the movie’s Ralphie, don’t truly heed the warning.
Now, new research backs up the claim that Nerf guns can pose a real threat to the eyes.
A new report from the medical journal, BMJ Case Reports, suggests that doctors are recognizing the short- and long-term dangers of toy Nerf guns.
The report outlines three unrelated cases within three months at Moorfields Eye Hospital accident and emergency department in London, according to CNN. Two adult patients had blood pooling and inflammation in the eye after being struck with a Nerf gun. Another patient, who was 11 years old, had both of those symptoms and damage to the eye’s outer retinal layers.
The study’s lead author, Dr. Mukhtar Bizrah, said that the extent of injuries from a children’s toy were quite surprising.
“Nerf guns are used by children, and I was not expecting to see blood,” Bizrah said.
The patients of note were treated properly — including reducing pressure inside the eye — and their symptoms dissipated after a few weeks, CNN notes.
Hasbro’s Nerf Modulus features increased levels of blaster customization. A new study, however, shows that if struck in the eye, the Nerf guns could leave harmful damage.
(Matt Peyton/Invision for Hasbro)
While Bizrah also noted that cornea injuries are common, he said that those sustained in the area between the iris and the pupil can be far more dangerous.
One patient, he said, had “angle recession,” which can be a future glaucoma risk factor.
Another point taken into consideration: the toy bullets from outside brands — which can be cheaper and preferred by parents. The authors couldn’t say whether these unbranded bullets — with firmer heads — caused less trauma.
Julie Duffy, senior vice president for global communications for Nerf producer Hasbro Inc., told CNN that the foam darts are not hazardous when used properly. She warned that they shouldn’t be pointed at a person’s eyes or face and should not be modified.
The outside foam bullets which claim to be Nerf-compatible may not meet safety standards and regulations, Duffy pointed out, before urging parents to be aware of packaging and age recommendations.
Doctors say protective eyewear can help prevent some of these damaging ocular injuries. Also, the toys should be kept away from very young children, they suggest.
Dr. Cate Jordan of Nationwide Children’s Hospital told CNN that the treatment might go as follows: monitor the patient for the first week to ensure there’s no rebleeding. Then, if blood clotting persists, the anterior chamber must be washed out. Then, the patient should avoid any harmful activity for a few weeks — before being monitored every three months for the first year and then subsequently once per year.