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  • Writer's pictureAtanas Bogoev M.D. and Maria Cholakova

Types of Eye Injury by Fireworks

Pyrotechnics, while captivating, pose a significant risk of eye damage and vision loss if not handled appropriately. Understanding the types of eye injury by fireworks aids in incident prevention and prompt response. This educational publication provides in-depth information on various types of eye trauma caused by fireworks.

Read on to learn more about the types of eye injuries and their potential consequences.

Corneal Abrasions

Accidents with fireworks may lead to painful corneal abrasions. The abrasions are scratchings or wounds on the cornea, the clear layer that protects the front of the eye. The potential cause of corneal abrasion injury by pyrotechnics is the direct impact of fireworks debris or sparks on the eye.

Basically, a foreign body (in this case - firework debris) enters the eye and scratches it. The scratches can be quite painful. Some of the symptoms to look out for are pain when blinking, severe redness, sensitivity to light, and a feeling of a foreign object in the eye.

For the treatment, start with immediate irrigation with clean water or saline. Avoid rubbing the eye! Then the person with the eye injury by fireworks needs medical assessment. Seeing a doctor is the only way to prevent infection and properly assess the extent of the damage.

Chemical Burns by Fireworks

Chemical burns are an eye injury caused by exposure to fireworks chemicals. The cause is direct contact with fireworks substances due to accidental discharge or malfunction of fireworks. This is a severe ophthalmology emergency that requires immediate medical help.

The chemical burns by fireworks lead to severe pain, redness, and tearing. Other concerning symptoms are eyelid swelling and blurred vision. In some extremely severe cases, the injured eye may be sealed shut from the burn.

The first thing to do when a chemical burn occurs is to immediately flush the eye with water. Then the person with the eye injury should seek emergency medical attention. Do not delay treatment, as rapid intervention is critical to minimize damage.

Globe Rupture

A globe rupture is one of the most serious injuries by fireworks. It involves a break in the eye's outer layers. It's likely a result of the high-velocity impact of fireworks and direct trauma to the eye.

The symptoms of this eye injury are severe pain, stinging feeling, rapid swelling, redness, subconjunctival hemorrhages, decreased vision, or complete loss of vision.

The injured should cover the eye with something soft, like a bandage or a protective shield, and go to the doctor right away. They should also avoid putting pressure on the eye.

Foreign Body Piercing the Eye

Contact with high-velocity fireworks fragments is one of the most concerning eye injuries. It often leads to the presence of foreign objects penetrating or piercing the eye.

While tiny pieces of firework debris can cause surface traumas and corneal abrasions, having bigger pieces in or sticking out of the eye may cause severe complications and vision loss.

Except for the visible foreign object in the eye, other symptoms are sudden and intense pain, possible bleeding, and swelling.

The right cause of action in this case is not to attempt to remove the object, nor to put pressure on it. Instead, gently cover the eye with a protective shield and seek immediate emergency medical attention.

Retinal Detachment

Retinal detachment is the separation of the retina (inside the eye) from the underlying layers. Potential causes of this trauma to the eye may be fireworks explosions or a sudden, forceful impact.

When the retina detaches, patients start to notice flashes of light or eye floaters. They also have blurry or low vision or/and see a curtain-like shadow over the visual field.

There is nothing you can do about retinal detachment traumas. The patient may need surgical procedures to reattach the retina to its proper position. Timely medical care significantly improves the chances of restoring vision and preventing complications.


Hyphema refers to bleeding in the front eye chamber. This eye injury may result from direct trauma to the eye or impact from fireworks debris.

Common symptoms of hyphema include the visibility of blood in the front of the eye. After the trauma patients also complain of eye pain and blurry vision. Moreover, some individuals with hyphema may experience sensitivity to light after a fireworks accident.

Treatment for hyphema involves prompt medical intervention. Doctors recommend rest and head elevation to reduce the bleeding and facilitate the healing process, as well as intraocular pressure measurement and control.

Types of Eye Injury by Fireworks

Prevention of Eye Injury by Fireworks

Firework eye injuries are largely preventable with proper precautions and safety measures.

Spectators should maintain a significant viewing distance from the fireworks display area, following recommended Fireworks Safety Guidelines. The distance minimizes the risk of debris reaching the eyes in case of unexpected explosions or malfunctions.

Using protective eyewear is also highly advisable. Individuals participating in fireworks displays or those nearby should wear safety glasses or goggles to withstand impact. This simple yet effective measure provides an additional layer of defense against potential eye injuries.

Attending professional fireworks displays reduces the risk of accidents, as these events adhere to strict safety standards. By promoting responsible behavior, communities can significantly contribute to the prevention of eye injuries caused by fireworks.

Awareness of the types of eye injuries by fireworks is essential for prevention and timely intervention. Practicing safety measures during firework shows and knowing how to respond to different eye traumas can significantly reduce the risk of consequences.

We hope this publication was helpful!

Checked by Atanas Bogoev, MD.


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