Paintball, BB and Pellet Gun Injuries Pose Serious Risk to Children’s Eyes

Here’s the good news: In a new study, the overall rate of children’s eye injuries from sports and recreation decreased slightly from 1990 to 2012. Here’s the bad news: Eye injuries to children from what are called nonpowder guns, including BB guns, pellet guns and paintball guns, increased significantly. And here’s the worse news: Those eye injuries were disproportionately likely to be serious.

The study, published this month in the journal Pediatrics, looked at children under 18 treated in a nationally representative sample of about 100 hospital emergency rooms in the United States. Most were released from the E.R. after treatment, but 4.7 percent were hospitalized with more serious injuries.

Three-fourths of the injured children were boys, and 43 percent of the injuries were in children aged 10 to 14.

Dr. Gary Smith, the director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, who was the senior author on the study, said that sports-related eye injuries in children have been a concern for a long time, leading to recommendations about protective eyewear in many sports.

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