The safe age limit for Nerf guns should be reviewed, say doctors, after three people were admitted to hospital with serious eye injuries from the toys.
Nerf guns are popular among adults and children alike, and currently have an age guideline of six and upwards – but that hasn’t stopped some people suffering serious eye injuries whilst playing with the toy.
Doctors at the Moorfields Eye Hospital in London have reported three cases of people suffering bruising, blurred vision and internal bleeding on the eye, with the youngest patient aged just 11.
The doctors warn that Nerf gun bullets are harder and could potentially cause more damage than parents realise, and there are lots of videos online which instruct children on how to modify their guns to shoot harder and faster.
In addition to raising the safe age limit, doctors have advised wearing protective eyewear when playing with the toy.
Stating their cases in a British Medical Journal case report, a resource for medical professionals, the experts wrote: ‘This case series serves to raise awareness of the seriousness of Nerf gun ocular injuries. It encourages further exploration of reasons for such injuries, as well as a review of protective measures against ocular trauma.’
The foam dart guns are a point of contention among parents, with plenty of threads on parenting forums asking what age, if any, is appropriate to let children play with them.
One Mumsnet user asked other mums if they thought three was too young, despite the guidelines being eight and up.
‘Does anyone think that 3 is too young for boys to be playing with a Nerf gun (age guideline 8 upwards)?’ she asked. ‘It makes me feel uncomfortable to see my son at his friend’s house with a flat jacket and protective goggles and this gun – I don’t think they have the sense to not use it at close range or the skill to not accidentally harm.’
One parent said: ‘My DS was hit in the eye by a dart from a Nerf gun being ‘wielded’ by his 5 year old cousin. I wouldn’t like it. Your child, your rules.’
But others were more relaxed, with one responding: ‘I don’t like children playing with guns, but I really really don’t think anyone could come to harm from a Nerf gun pellet!’