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BB guns to blame for eye injury spike

Doctors say almost all patients end up losing vision

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SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio's UT Health Science Center is seeing a spike in eye injuries in children from BB or pellet guns. Unfortunately, the outcome for the kids is not usually very good.

In the last month alone, five children have been treated severe eye injuries after being shot or shooting themselves with non-powder guns. Doctors said the majority are BB guns.

"They are all kids. That's the most disturbing part to me. They have a whole life ahead of them and it's devastating to see them losing their vision," UT Medicine Ophthalmologist Dr. Elena Geraymovych said.

Geraymovych has treated all five children injured this month and said in every case, the child has lost most or all vision in the eye. She said the BB pellets are small, but they are causing a lot of damage.

"In the current BB guns, when you pump it up, the BB leaves the gun with the velocity similar to .22 caliber handguns. So it can penetrate the eye completely, causing retinal detachment, something that makes the person blind for the rest of their life," Geraymovych said.

She's never seen such a spike in cases like this, which is why she wants to educate people now about these preventable injuries.

"Surprisingly, most of these injuries happen when the parents are around, but not in a direct supervision of the kids," she said.

She said supervision is key. So is following proper BB gun rules, like the ones listed by the National Rifle Association:

  • Never point the gun at someone or yourself
  • Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot
  • Always keep the gun unloaded until ready to use
  • Wear eye and ear protection as appropriate

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