Safe Toys and Gifts Awareness Month

Each year, especially during the holiday season, many children end up in the emergency room with toy-related eye injuries. With holiday shopping in full swing, the Canadian Ophthalmological Society (COS) wants consumers to take proper precaution when choosing toys to give to children.

"With kids, accidents can always happen and the misuse of a toy can cause anything from corneal abrasion to retinal detachment and even complete vision loss," says Dr. Colin Mann, President of the Canadian Ophthalmological Society. "It's easy to get carried away in the excitement of the season while shopping for toys, but Canadians should be aware of the hazards certain toys carry before they purchase them."

COVID-19 is adding another layer of risk to an already stressful season since many families will have to shop online due to lock-down measures. This means you need to pay close attention to both the listing and product descriptions when purchasing from websites and read the box once the product arrives to make sure the listing description is accurate.

"One thing you don't want to do is purchase a toy online under the impression that it's appropriate for a two-year old, for example, based on the seller's information when in reality the product itself advises it's only for use with children four-and-up," says Dr. Mann. "The age appropriateness displayed on the toy packaging is a great starting point to determine if the pieces have potential to injure a child, and what level of supervision the child will need."

Dr. Mann recommends that you review products carefully to ensure the toy is age-appropriate for the child it's being gifted to. For example, don't buy toys with small removable parts where choking is a concern, and sports-related toys should be purchased with the proper safety equipment, such as helmets or goggles.

The Canadian Ophthalmological Society also offers the following tips when shopping for and using toys to ensure your children are safe this holiday season:

Age Appropriate – Make sure the recipient of the toy is of the appropriate age according to the packaging's recommendations. Keep toys for older kids out of the reach of younger siblings.

Avoid certain toys entirely – Do not purchase toy guns or toys that contain lasers, aerosols (such as silly string), sharp edges or easily removable pieces which could pose a choking hazard. Avoid any flying objects or "long and pointy" toys, including swords, lightsabers, wands, etc.

Inspected and approved – Check the packaging to confirm that toys have been inspected and approved by the proper regulatory bodies, such as Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA), Canadian Standards Association (CSA) or the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM)

Provide adult supervision: Put toys that have potential for injury away and only allow children to play with them when an adult is able to keep a close eye.

Demonstrate proper usage: Show children how to use the toy, to help prevent them from potentially using it incorrectly, which could create a hazardous situation.

About the Canadian Ophthalmological Society

The Canadian Ophthalmological Society (COS) is the national, recognized authority on eye and vision care in Canada. As eye physicians and surgeons, we are committed to assuring the provision of optimal medical and surgical eye care for all Canadians by promoting excellence in ophthalmology and by providing services to support our members in practice. Our membership includes over 900 ophthalmologists and 200 ophthalmology residents. We work collaboratively with government, other national and international specialty societies, our academic communities (ACUPO), our provincial partners and affiliates and other eye care professionals and patient groups to advocate for health policy in Canada in the area of eye and vision health. COS is an accredited, award-winning provider of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) through the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) and is an affiliate of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA). For more information, visit cos-sco.ca.

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