In the beloved holiday movie “A Christmas Story,” Ralphie tells his parents and Santa he wants only one present for Christmas: “I want an official Red Ryder, carbine-action; two hundred shot range model air rifle, with a compass in the stock and this thing which tells time!” They all reject his plea, saying "You'll shoot your eye out!"

While one might not literally remove an eye with a BB gun, the risk of injuries from BB, pellet and Airsoft guns increases dramatically in the absence of adequate safety measures. Recent studies reveal that eye injuries related to air-powered guns are increasing at an alarming rate. If an air-powered gun is on your Christmas shopping list, your Wyoming ophthalmologists (medical eye physicians and surgeons) urge you to add the gift of protective eyewear.

Here are a few tips to keep your family safe and foster Yuletide joy this holiday season:

  • Educate children. Instruct the child in safe procedures for air-powered guns. It's a great opportunity to teach general firearm safety. Always treat air-guns like the real thing!
  • Buy proper eye protection and insist on its use. Protective equipment must meet appropriate ANSI/ASTM standards for the type of projectile.
  • Get a target. Have children shoot BB and pellet guns at paper or gel targets with a soft backstop or trap that will prevent ricochets.
  • Be present. Ensure that there is appropriate adult supervision.
  • Know what to do (and what not to do) if an eye injury occurs. Seek immediate medical attention from your eye care professional. As you wait for medical help, make sure to never touch, rub, apply pressure, or try to remove any object stuck in the eye.

Wishing you a joyous and safe holiday season with your family and friends!

Anne Miller, MD, is an ophthalmologist who practices in Cheyenne. She currently serves as President of the Wyoming Ophthalmological Society.

Paid for by the Wyoming Ophthalmological Society.

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