This week my son and I went to visit an old friend. His name is Dr. Lee and we met under tragic conditions nearly three years ago. Dr. Lee is an eye surgeon and he met us at the hospital one summer evening in 2005 when we had just moved to Texas.
My son Ben had been playing outside with his brother, getting to know the new neighbors while my husband and I stayed indoors unpacking and keeping an eye on our daughter. The boys came in and asked if they could play Air Soft guns with some neighbor boys. Initially we told them no, but they said they had goggles and why not and everyone was playing and why couldn’t they. So we relented, against our better judgment.
A few minutes later we wandered outside to the driveway and then we heard Ben scream. I stayed with our daughter while my husband went over to see what had happened. Ben was holding his face screaming, “My eye! My eye!” But he had goggles on, right? So I assumed he had taken a pellet on the eyebrow or forehead.
My husband ushered him down the sidewalk and said to me, “He’s been hit in the eye.” I said, “You mean his eyebrow.” That’s when he said, “No, he took his goggles off to reload and got shot. In the eye.” I ran over to the neighbor and asked her where the nearest emergency room was. We had just moved in and didn’t even have a doctor.
Moments later, Ben was being examined at a walk-in urgent care clinic and the diagnosis wasn’t good. He had no vision in the eye and blood had pooled. We were referred to a local hospital—about thirty minutes away—and Dr. Lee was called in to examine him.
He’d suffered a tear to the iris (at about the 2 o'clock mark), pulling the iris away from the sclera (white part). Fortunately the pellet did not embed itself in his eye. We were sent home with four different types of eye drops, pain medication and a very scared little boy. Dr. Lee said he sees about twelve cases of eye injuries caused by Air Soft guns each year. Ben’s was one of the worst.
This week, Dr. Lee said at Ben’s now annual check up that we were lucky. His vision is normal. He shows no signs of glaucoma or cataracts but those will be ongoing concerns.
Dr. Lee’s mission is to get manufacturers to take the word “soft” off the product since it misrepresents the “hardness” of the pellet and the damage it can cause. My wish is that no one will allow their children to play with such a dangerous toy. Please click on the envelope below and forward this blog entry to everyone you know who might have a child who plays with one of these guns. Because that’s what they are: GUNS and kids have no business playing with them.