By Linda Conlin, Pro to Pro Managing Editor

It’s fun to try to find the toy that will be a big hit with a special child. Some folks are secretly competitive with relatives and friends to find the toy that will leave the others in a pile of wrapping paper. But, with all the excitement, there’s a need for caution. Prevent Blindness has named December as Safe Toys and Gifts Awareness Month - and with good reason.

In 2013, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimated that hospital emergency rooms across the country treated 265,700 toy-related injuries, compared to 265,000 the year before. And, 73 percent of those injuries were to children under the age of 15. Of that group, approximately 83,700 were to those under 5 years of age. The most commonly injured part of the body is the head and face, with the most frequent injuries being lacerations, contusions, or abrasions.

To help consumers decide on safe toys for children, Prevent Blindness offers the following guidelines for vision safety with toys:
• Avoid toys that shoot or include parts that fly off
• Ask yourself or the parent if the toy is right for the child's ability and age. Consider whether other smaller children may be in the home that may have access to the toy
• Avoid purchasing toys with sharp or rigid points, spikes, rods, or dangerous edges
• Buy toys that will withstand impact and not break into dangerous shards
• Look for the letters "ASTM." This designation means the product meets the national safety standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM)
• Gifts of sports equipment should always be accompanied by protective gear (such as a basketball along with eye goggles)
• Always dispose of broken toys immediately
• Read all warnings and instructions on the box
• Always supervise children and demonstrate to them how to use their toys safely

While we’d all like to be kids again at the holidays, we have to be adults about purchasing toys. Take a step back and be sure that the gifts we give will be safe as well as make children happy. To learn about raising awareness of the importance of wearing protective eyewear to prevent sports-related eye injury, go to our CE, Born on the Battlefield – Protecting Eye's in Youth and Beyond, at

One other thing – for December, Pro to Pro is giving you a second look at some of our most popular articles. The next two articles are among them. Enjoy!