Every Fourth of July, New Jersey emergency rooms see an increase in eye injuries caused by fireworks.

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According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 1,600 people across the country injure their eyes while using fireworks, and children 15 years old or younger account for half of all eye injuries.

"The typical injuries from fireworks include eyelid lacerations, burns, corneal abrasions, all the way to actual damage of the eye or the integrity of the eye which all can lead to blindness," said Dr. Cecily Lesko, president of the NJ Academy of Ophthalmology.

In 25 percent of these cases, the injuries result in permanent vision loss or blindness.

Some of the most serious injuries come from bottle rockets and sparklers.

"The most common firework to cause injuries are sparklers which we all consider so safe. Children are often allowed to handle them on their own. We've all had them in our birthday cakes. But they burn very hot. They burn about 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, which is 1,000 degrees hotter than boiling water," said Lesko.

Sixty percent of injuries are the direct result of firework malfunctioning. "So when we're talking about the malfunctions, those are ones that people are either buying out-of-state or using out of state, bringing back into the state," said Lesko.

About another 40 percent of injuries are caused by firework misuse.  Fireworks are illegal in New Jersey.

The New Jersey Academy of Ophthalmology urges the public to follow these tips:

  • Never let children play with fireworks of any type.
  • View fireworks from at least 500 feet away.
  • Leave the lighting of fireworks to trained professionals.
  • Respect safety barriers set up to allow pyrotechnicians to do their jobs safely.
  • If you find unexploded fireworks, do not touch them. Immediately contact your local fire or police departments.

Overall 9,000 injuries are caused by fireworks each year.