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Dr. Rick
Dr. Rick, Board Certified MD
Category: Eye
Satisfied Customers: 11365
Experience:  Ophthalmology since 1994 with Retina sub-specialty interest
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Can retina get injured with a Nerf gun dart?

Customer Question

Can a retina become unattached from the force of a Nerf Gun dart hitting the eye? I previously had 20/20 vision. A ricochet event where a dart bounced off the ceiling and hit me directly in the eye is what I strongly believe caused it as I did not have any other incidents, no risk factors or heavy lifting or straining. The company says that there is not enough force to cause this injury but my 10 year old is a very credible witness to the event. I had the surgery to reattach it and now need cataract removal which was also caused by the reattachment. I have also read that cataract surgery can also now cause retinal detachment again. What are your thoughts?

Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Eye
Expert:  Dr. Rick replied 5 years ago.

Tell me a little bit more about the injury. How far were you from the muzzle of the Nerf gun? What type of Nerf gun was it? Did you have floaters/flashes after the injury? What is your eyeglass Rx? What type of surgery did you have to reattach your retina?

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Customer: replied 5 years ago.

I had a Scleral buckle replacement, Cryotherapy and External drainage. When my son shot the dart it was about six feet from the ceiling, it hit it and bounced directly back off the ceiling hitting me directly in the eye. I had my eye wide open as I was watching a movie and had no idea it was coming. I recreated the incident and it leaves a nice plop on the pillow. Would certainly not want it to happen again based on the plop and slight indentation it leaves on the pillow. My doctor did indicate that due to my age(56), it does not take a huge amount of pressure to cause this damage. I hope this answers your questions. I had no other risk factors and prior to this had 20/20 vision in both eyes, I did occasionally use store bought glasses to read at length. That is it.

Expert:  Dr. Rick replied 5 years ago.

First of all, with the surgery you had to repair your detachment you do not have to worry about it re-detaching after uncomplicated cataract surgery.....your retina is stuck down very firmly at this point :-) Now, about the trauma from the Nerf gun. Since it bounced off the ceiling before hitting your eye, and Nerf dart being a really soft thing to begin with, I just can't imagine it having enough force left when it impacted your eye to deform the globe to the point that the internal structures of your globe (Sclera, Vitreous, Retina, Choroid, Ciliary body) were stressed to the point of causing a detached retina. Is it possible? Sure, in medicine anything can, and does, happen. But, from what you have told me I don't think it is likely.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

It makes sense that it is a low probability, however I had no other incidents at all, that could have caused this, except this one four or so weeks before. The trauma was enough that I kept a wrag with ice and cold water on it the rest of the afternoon and evening and it hurt for 2-3 days and then subsided. I now have thirty thousand in medical bills and still need the cataract removed. Remember there are millions of these guns out there. And my own doctor said that she sees older patients like me that have gotten detached retinas from the force of the wind riding motorcycles at high rates of speed. So it is easier for me as I am 56 to have this type of injury, any way, it seems foreseeable that this can happen, and I can't think of anything else nor could the doctors, as to what else it could be from? It may be a low probability, but with so many of them out there and a large part of the population being my age with kids shooting thousands of these around the house every day, it is happening now or certainly can happen, to others. It seems they should warn of this danger, of a ricochet eye injury, as they PROMOTE it as a safe indoor game. It does not seem it was safe for me.....