New Year’s Eve 2021: Can fireworks harm your eyes?

30 December 2021

Author: Melody Solaimaninajad


How to ring in the New Year safely


2021 is almost over, and with all the uncertainty we’ve faced over the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s no surprise that you may want to celebrate getting through another year! As tomorrow is New Year’s Eve, we’re sure that many of you are planning on watching a fireworks display to ring in the New Year, or even putting on a fireworks display of your own. While we would never wish to dampen your excitement (!), you should remain cautious and be extra careful if you attend a display or use any fireworks yourself this year.


Fireworks should always be handled with care – as beautiful as they can be, if you are not protecting yourself and taking the necessary precautions needed, you could sustain serious injuries. These include eye injuries, which could result in permanent eye damage or vision loss. In this piece we will guide you on how to celebrate with fireworks as safely as possible, to minimise any dangers and risks posed to your vision and eye health.


How can fireworks damage your eyes?


Studies have shown that every year in the UK, around 300 people suffer from serious eye injuries as a result of accidents involving fireworks. On average, ten of those people lose their sight completely. You may be thinking that most firework accidents only happen amongst children, but three quarters (73%) of serious ocular traumas are sustained by adults. Almost half (45%) of these incidents occur at private firework displays, where people buy and operate their own fireworks. This can increase the risk of danger when fireworks are not being used by professionals.


Fireworks can cause permanent eye damage by rupturing the eyeball, causing chemical and thermal burns, corneal abrasions (scratches on the cornea), and retinal detachment – where the retina is detached from the back of the eye. Some of the common causes of these injuries are firework ash or dust in the eye. Even sparklers, which seem like one of the safest options of fireworks, can still be extremely dangerous. Sparklers can burn at temperatures up to 2000 °C, which is hot enough to burn metal and gold.


While you can purchase fireworks legally from registered sellers from the age of 18, the misuse of fireworks can lead to serious injury or permanent vision loss. Therefore, fireworks should not be treated as a toy, as they can cause significant damage to both your eyes and the rest of your body. Our safety tips will reveal what steps you can take to minimise these risks on New Year’s Eve. After all, a serious eye injury is probably not how you’d rather start off the New Year!


How can I protect my eyes from fireworks?


The first step you can take to protect your eyes from any damage caused by fireworks is wearing protective eyewear, such as goggles or safety glasses. Protective eyewear can reduce the risk of serious eye damage or vision loss if a firework does hit you, even if you are a spectator standing a reasonable distance from the fireworks. Wearing goggles can prevent any ash or debris from the fireworks falling into your eyes and causing burns or other injuries. If you are physically handling fireworks yourself, wearing protective eyewear is essential. A firework could malfunction and blow up too early, causing serious damage to your eyes without any protective goggles on.


While watching a beautiful firework display is certainly a tradition on New Year’s Eve, the intense light emitted from the displays can cause discomfort for some people. If you find firework displays are uncomfortable or irritating to look at, look away to reduce any irritation. Light sensitivity may occur due to your pupils having difficulty adjusting to light, which can make bright lights too intense for your eyes. If light sensitivity is not just an issue on New Year’s Eve and becomes an ongoing issue, visit your optician to check for any underlying conditions you might have.


To prevent any dangerous accidents from occurring, remember to always handle fireworks with caution, especially if you are igniting any of your own this year. Wearing protective eyewear and taking the necessary precautions is essential for your own safety and the safety of others around you. Following the rules of the Firework Code will also help to keep you safe and on the right side of the law.


What should I do if I sustain an eye injury from fireworks?


If you are hit by a firework or by debris in your eye, or near your eyes, seek medical attention immediately. Acting quickly could save you from vision loss or permanent eye damage, so try to seek medical help as fast as possible. Do not touch the injured eye before seeing a professional, as this could increase the damage to your eye even further, making it more difficult to receive treatment for the injury.



No matter what your plans are for New Year’s Eve this year, we hope you have an amazing time celebrating the New Year with your family and friends. If you are planning on attending a fireworks display or using fireworks of your own, be sure to follow our safety tips to prevent any accidents and eye injuries from happening. We’d like to wish you all a very happy New Year, from everyone at Ultralase!

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