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As a child develops from birth through school age, so does their eyesight. Newborns are born with blurry farsighted vision, and many children develop nearsightedness by the time they reach school. According to pediatric ophthalmologist Ellen Mitchell, MD, “One of the recommended ways we encourage vision development is to visually stimulate a child through toys. However, it’s important to pay attention to their eye safety.”

While toys can be fun and educational, that doesn’t always mean they are safe. Despite warnings and age recommendations on most toys, Prevent Blindness America reports that children suffer over 11,000 toy-related eye injuries each year.

Learn more about child eye safety, and how to select safe toys in the post below.

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Common Eye Injuries

Some of the common toy-related eye injuries include:

  • Corneal abrasion – scratch.
  • Ocular hyphema – a painful condition in which blood pools in the front part of the eye due to a broken blood vessel and can cause permanent vision problems.
  • Traumatic cataract – clouding of the lens of the eye that occurs following an eye injury.

While these common eye injuries can be serious, the majority of eye-related injuries can be treated and have no lasting effects. By avoiding the toys below and supervising children during play most eye injuries can be avoided.

Choosing the Safe Toys for Your Children

When selecting toys for your children remember to follow these guidelines:

  • Avoid toys with sharp edges.
  • Avoid toys with flying objects.
  • Keep toy guns (BB, paintball, pellet, etc.) away from children.
  • Avoid toy weapons (bow and arrow, projectiles, darts, etc.).
  • Avoid fireworks.

While age-level recommendations are important to follow, parents and caregivers should decide what toys are safe for their children.

The following toys can be safe and visually stimulating for children:

  • Under 12 months: brightly colored mobiles, stuffed animals, stacking blocks.
  • 12 – 24 months: Board books, blocks, puzzles, shape sorters, toys with lights.
  • 24 -36 months: Finger paints, felt board and pieces, musical toys, magnetic letters.
  • 3 – 6 years: Large crayons and markers, board games, toy camera.
  • 9 – 10 years old: Modeling clay, bicycle, sports equipment.

If an eye-related accident occurs, consult your ophthalmologist. To learn more about protecting your children’s eyes, or to make an appointment with an expert, contact the UPMC Vision Institute, or call 412-647-2200.

Do you have any favorite safe toys you recommend for children?

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .

About UPMC Vision Institute

The UPMC Vision Institute is a national leader in the treatment of eye diseases and disorders. We seek to improve and restore your vision to help your quality of life, diagnosing and treating a wide range of conditions in both children and adults. Our treatments include both surgical and nonsurgical options. We also offer routine eye screenings and have full-scale optical shops. Find an eye expert close to you.

About Pediatrics

From nutrition to illnesses, from athletics to school, children will face many challenges growing up. Parents often will make important health care decisions for them. We hope to help guide both of you in that journey. UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh is a national leader in pediatric care, ranking consistently on U.S. News & World Report’s Best Children’s Hospitals Honor Roll. We provide expert treatment for pediatric diseases, along well-child visits, urgent care, and more. With locations across Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia, you can find world-class care close to home. We also work closely with UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital, a national leader in care for newborns and their mothers. Our goal is to provide the best care for your children, from birth to adulthood and beyond. Visit our website to find a doctor near you.