Doctors Warn of “Serious Eye Injuries” caused by Nerf Guns

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Doctors from Moorfields Eye Hospital in London have warned that the foam and rubber bullets fired from Nerf have the risk of causing serious eye damage.

They report that they have treated three people suffering from blurred vision, eye pain and internal bleeding around the eye area after being shot by the toy dart guns.

Their recommendations include raising the safe age limit for using the toy guns as well as wearing eye protection when in use.

Nerf guns, made by toy company Hasbro, are a line of toy guns that fire foam darts, usually tipped with a soft rubber tip. Hasbro claims that the Nerf products have all undergone rigorous testing to ensure they are safe to play with, and advice that people playing with the guns should not aim them at the face or eyes.

Part of the issue isn’t necessarily with the Hasbro products as designed but from two other issues.

The first is that replacement darts can be bought cheaper from unofficial and bootleg retailers, which eye experts at Moorfields have said are harder and could cause more damage than intended. They reported three cases of people, two adults and a child, who were shot in the eye from less than ten metres and suffered from pain, blurred vision and in one case swelling of the cornea and retina. All three were treated with eye drops and their sight returned to normal within a few weeks.

The other risk comes from modifications to Nerf guns, shown in online videos, which could show children how to make their dart guns shoot “harder, faster and further” than the tested distances. The risk of long term vision loss is magnified by the modification of Nerf guns or unlicensed Nerf darts.

However, the authors of a study into the effects of toy guns on eye sight conceded that more research was necessary to discover if eye injuries were increasing as a result of Nerf or other dart guns.

Currently, what must be said is that there hasn’t been any serious eye injuries, just the risk of them, and the risk of long term sight loss being caused by a stray Nerf dart has not been ascertained quite yet. Toy companies should be as aware as possible of the potential safety hazards of their products, and perhaps there is prudence in including some form of protective eyewear in order to avoid the potential for a serious injury.

Whether this will happen or not is dependent on further research and if there any further incidents where a Nerf product causes harm, particularly if used as intended. This is not similar to the incidents involving Lawn Darts, which caused death and serious injury to a substantial number of people before being banned from sale in the United States.

More research is probably needed either way, but it is a positive step that the concerns about toys given to children are heeded, to avoid unnecessary serious injury.