Nerf guns can lead to serious eye injuries, doctors warn

Nerf guns – a popular toy across the UK – can lead to serious eye injuries, doctors have warned.

Experts from the UK’s leading eye hospital said bullets from the guns and blasters could lead to internal bleeding around the eye as well as issues such as blurred vision.

They suggested that children and adults who play with the guns should wear protective eye goggles, and also called for “reconsideration of the safe age limits for Nerf gun use in children.”

Nerf toys, which are manufactured by Hasbro, include a range of guns, blasters, and bows and arrows aimed at children aged eight and over.

Nerf guns
(John Phillips/PA)

Writing in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), A&E medics from Moorfields Eye Hospital in London told how three patients suffered injury from the guns in separate incidents. All suffered internal bleeding.

One 32-year-old man was shot in the eye from eight metres away by a child with a Nerf gun. He suffered blurred vision and a red eye.

A 43-year-old woman was shot in her right eye from a distance of one metre and complained of blurred vision and a red, sore eye.

An 11-year-old child also suffered a shot in his right eye from a distance of two metres.

Nerf guns.
(John Stillwell/PA)

The child complained of pain and blurred vision.

He developed swelling of the outer layer of the eye (cornea), and the inner layer of the eye (retina), from the force and speed of the bullet fired by the gun.

All the patients were examined and given eye drops, the researchers said.

Check-ups in the following weeks showed that their sight had returned completely and the bleeding had stopped.

Nerf gun.
(Jonathan Brady/PA)

The authors said that while there was a good outcome for these three patients, the ability of Nerf guns to cause problems was worrying and could lead to long-term vision loss.

The authors also pointed out that one patient had told them that non-branded, cheaper bullets that fit Nerf guns are on sale.

Examination of these bullets showed them to be harder than the ones made by Hasbro – something parents may not be aware of.

Numerous online videos also show children how to modify their guns to make them shoot harder, faster and further distances.

Nerf gun.
(Jonathan Brady/PA)

The authors said that no safe distance for avoidance of significant eye trauma can be established from the cases seen.

A spokeswoman for Hasbro said: “Product safety is of utmost concern at Hasbro.

“Nerf products are designed based on years of consumer insights and research and undergo rigorous reviews and testing to assure that they are safe and fun to play with and meet or exceed global standards and regulations.

“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 the foam darts and foam rounds designed for specific Nerf blasters and never modify darts or blasters.”


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