Saturday, August 17, 2013

Eye injuries from party foam, silly string and artificial snow

Eye injuries are the most common cause of blindness in kids.  And the most common cause of eye injuries is sports.  But a new study published in the June 2013 issue of the journal Cornea puts the spotlight on chemical eye injuries resulting from contact with "silly string," "party foam," or fake snow.

The study looked all patients who came to two particular hospitals with eye injuries over a two year period.  Around 100 patients had come with injuries related to party foam.

All patients suffered from chemical conjunctivitis (100%).  Chemical conjunctivitis is also kown as chemical pink eye or "toxic pinkeye".  It can also be caused by getting smoke, liquids, fumes, or chemicals in the eye. Chemical conjunctivitis can look like this:

Image: Wikipedia

79% of patients had superficial punctate keratopathy, which involves the death of small groups of cells on the surface of the cornea (the clear layer in front of the iris and pupil). Symptoms of superficial punctate keratopathy include the following redness, watering, and sensitive to light and decreased vision.

The study authors observed that 85 patients were seen in 2007 compared wit only 11 in 2008. The authors claim that the reduction was directly attributable to increased public awareness because of media coverage (newspapers, radio, and national TV) on the dangers posed by silly string.

Chemical eye injuries of the kind caused by silly string are usually easily treated in the optometrist's office.

We hope that this blog post will increase awareness and therefore contribute towards the prevention of this eye injury.


Party Foam-Induced Eye Injuries and the Power of Media InterventionCornea 2013 Jun 01;32(6)826-829, A Abulafia, F Segev, E Platner, B Simon

Silly string image: Jake Garn,, used with permision.

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