Children, Toys and Eye Safety

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There’s been a lot of attention around lead levels in children’s toys lately, but have you ever thought about toys as a possible cause of eye injuries? According to the Canadian Association of Optometrists, each holiday season thousands of children end up in emergency rooms because of eye-related injuries caused by unsafe toys. Here’s how you can create a safer play environment all year long.

Making a Safe Choice

With so many toys filling up store shelves and the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping, it may be a lot to have to think about toy safety as well. But it doesn’t have to be that difficult.

“The key to ensuring a toy is safe is to buy something that is age-appropriate as labelled on the product,” says Joey Rathwell, a spokesperson for Health Canada. “A toy that is appropriate for a six-year-old may not necessarily be safe for a toddler.”

Rathwell suggests that teaching older children to keep their games and toys out of the reach of younger children can help avoid all sorts of injuries, including eye injuries.

Rathwell also suggests that parents and caregivers:

Colour photo of young boy playing with toy cars
  • Avoid buying toys with sharp points or edges.
  • Steer clear of toys with arrows, bullets and missiles. Projectile toys can cause damage if they hit the eye, no matter how soft they are.
  • Discard or repair old or damaged toys. Loose parts and broken pieces are dangerous.
  • Have their child wash their hands after playing with slimy gel and gooey plastic toys. The chemical residue can easily get into a child’s eyes and cause irritation.

Nothing Substitutes for Supervision

Even if your child is mature enough to play with a specific toy, parents and caregivers should still keep a watchful eye, says Rathwell. Children’s injuries often occur when there is no adult around.

It’s also a good idea to read warnings and other safety messages on toy packaging together with your child before play. Teaching your child how to play safely can help prevent unnecessary eye injuries.

In Canada, toy safety is regulated by the Hazardous Products Act and the Hazardous Products (Toys) Regulations.

Health Canada works with manufacturers to ensure they comply with these regulations. It also carries out toy testing and research. Any toy that does not meet the required regulations is pulled from the market.

But Rathwell warns that although Health Canada officers regularly check toys for compliance, unsafe toys sometimes find their way into your home. “Some toys that are no longer considered safe may still be in people’s homes – they may be older toys, borrowed from a friend or handed down from an older child, or purchased at a garage sale. For this reason, parents and caregivers should check toys often and immediately report any safety concerns to the Consumer Product Safety Office.”

In the event that a toy is unsafe, Health Canada will work with the manufacturer to recall the product and have it removed from the market, and advise consumers of how to return or dispose of the product.

You can view Health Canada’s toy recall list on its website.

Visit CNIB’s website for more information on eye safety.

For more information about toy safety, or if you think you have a toy that could be dangerous, contact Health Canada.​​​​