Listen to Your Mom: "Don't Run with Scissors!"

August 14, 2002

Your Mom has probably said it many times:

"Don't run with those scissors!"

She is only trying to protect you. In fact, Australian researchers would agree with your Mom. They have shown that most severe eye injuries happen at home. Dr. C.G. Thompson (Port Macquarie Eye Centre) and colleagues studied 72 cases of eye injuries that happened to children less than 16 years old.

Of the 72 eye injuries:
    15 injuries (21%) happened to children between 0 and 3 years old.

    23 injuries (32%) happened to children between 3 and 6 years old.

    18 injuries (25%) happened to children between 6 and 9 years old.

    10 injuries (14%) happened to children between 9 and 12 years old.

    6 injuries (8%) happened to children between 12 and 15 years old.

    More eye injuries occurred in boys (48 injuries; 67%) than in girls (24 injuries; 33%). However, in children younger than 3 years, boys (7 injuries) and girls (8 injuries) had about the same number of injuries.

    Most injuries (42 injuries; 58%) occurred at home. Surprisingly, only 1 injury occurred at school.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, approximately 1 million accidental eye injuries occur each year in the United States. Some of these injuries are preventable. The Australian researchers report that several eye injuries happened to children who were doing things they should not have been doing. For example, one child suffered an eye injury while lighting a bullet with a cigarette lighter. Another child suffered an eye injury when watching a brother crush a marble in a vice. It is likely that better supervision of these children would have prevented the injuries.

The low number of injuries at schools may be because children have good supervision. Also, many schools allow children to use only blunt scissors. At home, many children may get into trouble when they handle sharp scissors and knives. To reduce the chance of eye injuries in children, Dr. Thompson and colleagues suggest:

  • Parents and caregivers should make the home safe for children and insure that scissor, knives, and other sharp or potentially dangerous objects are out of reach of children.
  • Children should be supervised when using sharp tools.
  • Safer tools should be provided to children.
  • Furniture with round corners should be used in houses with young children.
  • Children should be kept away from gardens with plants with thorns.

References and further information:

  1. Thompson C.G., Kumar, N., Billson, F.A., and Martin, F. The aetiology of perforating ocular injuries in children, British Journal of Ophthalmology, 86:920-922, 2002.
  2. Eye Safety - from Neuroscience for Kids

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