Doctors warn Nerf guns can cause irreversible eye damage
Doctors have issued on warning over a Christmas must-have toy, warning that Nerf guns can cause irreversible eye damage. Experts from the UK's leading eye hospital said bullets from the guns and blasters could lead to internal bleeding around the eye as well as issues such as blurred vision.
And they warned that children were increasingly watching YouTube videos adising them how to ‘soup up’ the toys, showing them how to make them shoot even harder, faster and further.
Children and adults who play with the guns should wear protective eye goggles, they said, while calling for "reconsideration of the safe age limits for Nerf gun use in children."
Nerf toys, which are manufactured by Hasbro, include a range of guns, blasters, and bows and arrows aimed at children aged eight and over.
Writing in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), A&E medics from Moorfields Eye Hospital in London told how three patients suffered injury from the guns in separate incidents. All suffered internal bleeding.
Two of the cases were adults, who were shot at by children.
A 32-year-old man shot in the eye from eight metres away by a child with a Nerf gun, suffered blurred vision and a red eye, as did a 43-year-old woman shot from a distance of one metre.
An 11-year-old child also suffered a shot in his right eye from a distance of two metres, resulting in swelling of the cornea and retina, with pain and blurred vision.
In each case their sight returned. But the authors said the guns had the potential to cause long-term vision loss.
The authors also raised concern about the risks posed by non-branded, cheaper bullets that fit Nerf guns, which were found to be harder than the ones made by Hasbro. They said patients had told how children had wathced online videos in order to make their guns more powerful.
No safe distance for avoidance of significant eye trauma can be established from the cases seen, researchers said.
They added: "It is important to note that the risk of having an eye injury with the Nerf darts also comes from the fact that a projectile can harm when it travels fast enough."
A spokesman for Hasbro said: "Product safety is of utmost concern at Hasbro. NERF products are designed based on years of consumer insights and research, and undergo rigorous reviews and testing to assure that they are safe and fun to play with, and meet or exceed global standards and regulations.
"NERF foam darts and foam rounds are not hazardous when used properly. Consumers must never aim NERF blasters at a person’s eyes or face, should only use the foam darts and foam rounds designed for specific NERF blasters, and never modify darts or blasters. There are darts available to buy claiming to be NERF compatible, however these darts are not NERF-branded and may not meet safety standards and regulations.
"Most of our NERF product line is age graded 8+, but we encourage parents and caregivers to read the packaging because some blasters are graded for older consumers.
"It’s important to note that the NERF brand encourages parents and caregivers to be involved in aspects of their children’s development, including play. Ultimately, a parent or caregiver knows his or her child best and is best equipped to make decisions on what forms of play and entertainment are most appropriate for his or her child."