According to CNN, the study examined sport- and recreation-related eye injuries among children over a 23-year period. Researchers found that eye injuries were most prevalent in basketball, baseball and softball, and while using nonpowder gun, including air soft guns and paintball guns.
While the study found an overall decrease in child eye-injury rates, recording an average of about 19,209 eye injuries per year, eye injuries associated with bb, pellet, and paintball guns increased by 168.8 percent. Additionally, eye injuries caused by nonpowder guns accounted for 11 percent of eye injuries recorded and for nearly half of all sport-related eye injury hospitalizations.
Researchers noted a rate of nonpowder-gun-related eye injuries of 1.61 per 100,000 children in 1990 versus a rate of 4.34 per 100,000 children in 2012.
Research also suggests that only 11 percent of the air gun eye injuries were sustained when an adult was present. In other words, 89 percent of all air gun eye injuries suffered by children occurred when there was no adult supervision.
While researchers did not identify an exact reason for the increase in nongunpowder-gun-related eye injuries, experts do have a few ideas. Some opine that an increase in the number of nongunpowder-guns available along with deteriorated supervision during the use of such products could be attributing the increase.
As such, adults are urged to supervise and monitor children using air guns. Children should also wear protective eye gear at all times. Parents should also only allow children to use paintball guns at insured commercial paintball fields that have rules for player safety and safe operation guidelines.
The National Rifle Association goes even further, stating “air guns must be treated with the same respect and safety considerations given all guns.”