MONDAY, July 1 (HealthDay News) -- Collapsible laundry hampers
can cause serious eye injuries to children if a sharp wire
contained within the device breaks free, according to a new
The researchers documented the cases of two children, one 23
months old and the other 11 years old, who each suffered a puncture
wound in one eye from a collapsible laundry hamper.
The devices collapse and then pop back into shape because they
have embedded within them a flexible wire that winds around the
outside of the cloth hamper.
"The wire has fabric holding it in place, and it's like a humongous spring," said study co-author Dr. Iris Kassem, an assistant professor of clinical ophthalmology at the University of Illinois at Chicago's School of Medicine. "When the fabric becomes frayed, the wire pops out and the end of the wire is very sharp."
The 11-year-old boy suffered a corneal laceration while placing
clothes in a collapsible laundry hamper, according to the report.
The wire mechanism within the hamper suddenly snapped up and struck
his right eye, puncturing it.
The report said the 23-month-old girl received her injury after
being poked in the eye from a wire protruding from a collapsible
Both patients came to the University of Illinois at Chicago Eye
and Ear Infirmary for treatment within one year of each other.
The cases were detailed online July 1 and in the August print
issue of the journal
These types of penetrating eye injuries are uncommon but very
serious, said Dr. Alon Kahana, an oculoplastic surgeon at the
University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center.
"The risk of vision [loss] is acute, and those patients require immediate evaluation in an emergency room," Kahana said. "Outcomes can be very good. There are some patients that end up with 20/20 vision, [but] there are some patients who end up with no vision at all."
In both reported cases, the children received prompt emergency
treatment and, as a result, are expected to regain much of the
sight in their injured eyes, Kassem said.
Both children required eye surgery to repair the damage. They
have since required some vision therapy to fix developmental
problems that occurred as a result of temporarily losing sight in
one eye at such a young age. The boy has suffered from exotropia, a
form of crossed eyes, while the girl has had amblyopia, or lazy
"They both did extremely well," Kassem said. "They both got very lucky. They both beat the odds to do well."
The authors have reported the injuries to the U.S. Consumer
Product Safety Commission, Kassem said.
They urged parents to be aware of the risk to kids. "Children
shouldn't be playing around these things, and if the integrity of
the hamper is compromised in any way, you need to throw the product
away," Kassem said.
Kahana agreed. "When it pokes out, it pokes out with force. You
have the combination of sharp and force," she said. "Most of these
are cheap items not meant for extended use. People should see when
something approaches the end of its useful life and toss it
Kassem has two kids and, at the time of the injuries, had a
couple of these hampers around her house.
"When the second kid came in with an injury, I said, 'That's enough of that,' and got rid of the hampers," she said. "It kind of freaked me out."
For more on laundry safety, check out this Consumer Reports
piece on the hazards of
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