Protect those eyes this December during the holidays.

That new toy or BB gun under this year’s tree can really wreak havoc on a young one’s eyes. The famous “you’ll shoot your eye out” line from A Christmas Story always rings through ever mother’s head when a potential projectile present is given this time of year.

According to the American Academy of Opthalmology, simply watching after your children, especially the first few times they use their new toy, is incredibly important until they are comfortable and you can be assured they are using the safest methods possible.

Regardless of the toy, if it involves projectiles, wear safety goggles. As we teach adults who use welders and woodwork, make sure your kids understand the importance of safety google. Treat them as a necessity, rather than a hindrance.

As an ophthalmologist that has seen my share of injured young eyes, I highly recommend that children not be allowed to use BB guns, pellet guns or air rifles—these are not harmless “toys,” but instead can be true weapons and they definitely require maturity to handle them safely. In fact, the worst BB injury was when a young 14-year old girl was accidentally shot in her eye by her brother. The bullet was lodged by her optic nerve, leaving a large entry hole, which could not be repaired. I had to remove her eye ball and place a prosthetic eye instead.

Christmas trees can also pose a threat to our eye health. Be careful when untying your tree—the branches can burst forward and into your eyes. And glass ornaments, if shattered, can be very dangerous—so hang them out of the reach of children and pets. And when we pop the cork on our Champagne bottle to welcome 2010, we should be careful not to let it fly loose. Did you know that champagne corks can travel at speeds up to 50 mph and could indeed “shoot your eye out?” Here’s a video that shows you how to open a Champagne bottle safely.

I hope that your holiday season is a joyous and safe one—happy holidays, everyone!