HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The Fourth of July is three weeks away. Many people will be setting off fireworks for the occasion. Hattiesburg Eye Clinic's Ophthalmologist Dr. David Richardson warns setting your sights on fireworks could be putting your eyesight at risk.
Richardson said our favorite time of year is his busiest time, and he sees some pretty gruesome eye injuries.
"Some of the worst times to be on call are Christmas, New Year's and July 4," Richardson said.
He said that's because of fireworks, specifically, bottle rockets. He said they are causing injuries to kids and adults.
"Any kind of projectile that's traveling at a high rate of speed that hits you in the eye can blind you," Richardson said. "And I have seen people blinded before with that, there's no question about it."
Richardson said for 32 years, he has seen folks from ages 10 to 20 with eye injuries due to fireworks. Some of those injuries have been irreversible.
"We saw many people blind from fireworks injuries. When the injury happens, the eye is such a delicate organ that can just disrupt it and it can't be repaired," Richardson said.
Injuries he can repair, like a hole in the retina or a hole in the back of the eye, need treatment immediately using a laser or actually sewing the eye with a suture the size of a hair strand.
"It requires a microscope that magnifies it about 40 times and a very steady hand," Richardson said.
Richardson said think eye safety first. He said wear goggles no matter what kind of fireworks you are using, especially bottle rockets.
"Stay a distance away from them if you are going to fire them. Bottle rockets, always fire them out of a bottle if you are going to use them. That's what they are for. Never throw them," Richardson said. "If you are going to use them, wear some eye protection, and just be smart about them."
Richardson said not all fireworks function the way you think they should. They can explode, producing projectiles or shrapnel that can hit you in the eye.