Nerf Guns 'Can Cause Serious Eye Injuries'

Peter Russell

September 19, 2017

Doctors are warning that a toy gun popular with children can cause serious eye injuries.

The warning comes after 3 people were treated in an accident and emergency unit after being shot in the eye with a Nerf gun.

Doctors from Moorfields Eye Hospital in London are calling for a review of the minimum age for using Nerf guns, and say anyone playing with them should consider wearing eye protection.

Nerf guns are a range of toys made by Hasbro that fire foam-based weaponry.

They are manufactured in a variety of formats, resembling pistols, rifles and light machine guns. The toys fire darts, discs, and sometimes balls.

Pain and Bleeding

Details of all 3 injuries – which are not related – are reported in the journal BMJ Case Reports.

One involved an 11-year-old who had been shot in the eye from 2 metres away. The others were both adults: a 32-year-old man who had been shot by a child from an approximate distance of 8 metres, and the other a 43-year-old woman from just 1 metre away.

All 3 people were in pain and had the condition hyphema, in which bloods seeps into the space between the clear covering of the eye, called the cornea, and the iris – the coloured part of the eye, causing blurred vision. The child had had also developed swelling of the cornea and retina.

Following treatment, all 3 patients went on to make a full recovery, the doctors report.

One of the patients said he had been shot in the eye with a generic Nerf gun 'bullet' that had been bought online at a cheaper price than the officially branded versions. The study authors say this appeared to have a harder, less cushioned tip.

However, they say there is no evidence that the official, branded versions would cause milder injuries.

The patient also told them that there are online videos demonstrating how children can modify Nerf guns to make them shoot harder, faster and to a further distance.

Age Restrictions

"This case series emphasises the seriousness of ocular injury from Nerf gun projectiles and calls into consideration the need for protective eyewear with their use," the authors write.

They say the safe age limit for Nerf gun use in children may also need to be reviewed.

Safety information provided by manufacturer Hasbro makes clear that Nerf guns should not be used by young children – usually under the age of 8 years. The instructions say the guns should never be pointed at anyone's eyes or face. They also say that only darts designed for the product should be used.

Safety 'of Utmost Concern'

A spokeswoman for Hasbro is quoted, saying: "Product safety is of utmost concern at Hasbro. "Nerf products are designed based on years of consumer insights and research and undergo rigorous reviews and testing to assure that they are safe and fun to play with and meet or exceed global standards and regulations.

"Nerf foam darts and foam rounds are not hazardous when used properly.

"Consumers must never aim Nerf blasters at a person's eyes or face, should only use the foam darts and foam rounds designed for specific Nerf blasters and never modify darts or blasters."


Nerf gun eye injuries: traumatic hyphema, Bizrah M, Verma S, BMJ Case Reports

Reviewed on September 19, 2017