It's no secret that kids love to play with Nerf guns, the fun toys that shoot foam bullets, but doctors are now warning of the dangers of the toy guns now that they are increasingly powerful, shooting their guns at an increased velocity and posing a serious potential risk of eye injuries.
Juanita Henschel is a 43-year-old mother who told CTV News she was almost blinded after being struck in the eye with a Nerf bullet fire from a gun her son was holding almost six meters away. "The bullet came in and shot right on the inside corner of my left eye," she said. "It definitely hurt." She said that the next day she noticed "little black floating spots" in her left eye, prompting a visit to her eye doctor.
That doctor told her that the bullet had caused a partial tear in her retina, an injury that could result in potential blindness in her left eye. She told the news agency she didn't realize how dangerous the toys could be, even when struck in the eye. "I had no idea," she said. "I was like 'What? I can still see. I just have little black spots. How can it be this serious?''
Henschel then traveled to see Dr. Matthew Tennant, a retina specialist, and professor at the University of Alberta who told her the damage was extensive but he was, fortunately, able to treat her injury with a laser. He then spoke of the dangers of the toys, warning that if used without protective eyewear they can pose a serious risk. "The new guns that they have in terms of Nerf guns have much more power than they used to be and these can potentially cause significant eye injury and potentially a risk losing vision," Tennant said.
This isn't the first time someone has been seriously injured by a Nerf gun. Last December a 9-year-old boy had to have his eye removed after being struck by a Nerf bullet, six years after the same eye was previously injured. Doctors also released a report in 2017 warning of the dangers of Nerf guns after three people in the span of three months were treated for serious ocular injuries in the UK.
Julie Duffy, the senior vice-president of global communications for Hasbro, the company that creates the Nerf toys said in a statement that safety is a "top priority" for the company. "Our products comply with all applicable global safety laws, regulations and standards," the statement read. "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 official Nerf darts, and never modify darts or blasters."
Henschel says she wants to do her part to warn others about the dangers of the toys. "It scared us," she said of her serious injury. "You really need to stop and think and pay attention to how you're playing and the safety rules that you're using when you play with them."
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