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PHOENIX -- This time of year, thousands of people end up in emergency rooms all over the country with injuries from fireworks.

"We're seeing burns to their eyes, pieces of metal in the eyes, lacerations and penetrating injuries even," said Dr. Matthew Palmer of Southwestern Eye Center. "The worst case is a total loss of the eye. Not only blindness, but actually having to remove the eye."

One-fourth of injuries caused by fireworks result in permanent vision loss or blindness. Even the smallest bit of a firework can cause significant problems.

Unfortunately, children are the most common victims of these types of injuries: Those under the age of 15 account for half of all firework injuries in the U.S.

According to Palmer, there are no "safe" fireworks that are optometrist approved. There are only "safe practices:"

• Follow all safety procedures when handling any type of fireworks.
• Safety glasses can significantly reduce the chance of eye injuries.
• Children should never play with fireworks without adult supervision.
• If an injury occurs seek immediate professional help.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that 9,000 fireworks-related deaths occur every year. About 65 percent of all firework-related injuries happen around the Fourth of July.

Sandra Haros , Reporter

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