Doctors See Rise In Air Soft Gun Eye Injuries - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

Doctors See Rise In Air Soft Gun Eye Injuries

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SALISBURY, Md. - A popular toy among kids is sending many of them to the hospital.

Paintball battles, air soft gun and bb wars. You're adrenaline is pumping as you try to hit your target and fulfill your mission. It's all in the name of fun and games, and the last thing you'd expect is to lose your eye.

"People sometimes have to take their eye protection off for whatever reason - it might fog up, if it's paintball, it might get covered in paint, and it's usually when they're taking the eye protection off that either a ricochet or a direct hit happens," Ophthalmologist Dr. Jason Tu of Azar Eye Institute said. 

These guns may not be real, but they are a lot more powerful than you think. "They can move at high rates of speed - depending on whether it's spring loaded or CO2 charged, or depending on the mechanism. They're traveling upwards of 400 feet per second. Bullets travel faster, but because they're not bullets fired from a gun with gun powder, people think they're safe," Dr. Tu said. 

These type of injuries can range from anywhere between mild bleeding inside the eye to total loss of vision, or even the worst - completely losing your eye altogether. "If there's bleeding inside the eye, we have to control that, and we often control that with drops and other measures. If you get shot in the eye with a bb and it causes any bleeding, it actually incapacitates the person for quite some time. You really can't move around very much. You can't put direct pressure on a bleed inside of the eye, so in order to get it to stop, you actually have to stop moving. So we actually put people on bed rest for a long time. If the pressure rises inside the eye, we have to do surgery to relieve it. Sometimes it's necessary, if the eye doesn't have vision, and is painful, the eye actually has to be removed," Dr. Tu said. 

The best advice Dr. Tu can give to avoid these injuries is to stick to 3 simple rules:
1. Wear some sort of eye protection
2. Don't ever take them off
3. Never shoot directly at each other

Air soft gun pellets made of plastic can actually do the same amount of damage a bb pellet made of metal can. "I call them plastic bb's. They look like bb's and they travel at the same speed as bb's." 

He also warns this type of injury is most typical in teenage boys, but he's recently seen more cases involving women of different ages. " I've had an 18-year-old girl shot in the eye with a bb, to a 40-year-old woman playing paint ball that has lost most of her vision. It can happen to anyone. A lot of people don't know of the dangers. They think that as long as they're wearing, or have eye protection near them, that they're somehow insulated from the injury - but that's not always true." 

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