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Paintball Guns Pose Eye Injury Risks

Paintball Guns Pose Eye Injury Risks

Posted - Apr. 20, 2004 at 4:29 p.m.



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Ed Yeates ReportingA prank shooting of a 15-year old Idaho teen with a paint gun has prompted a stern warning today from ophthalmologists.

The director of the Moran Eye Center is calling the unfortunate incident the dark and dirty side of the sport. Though 15 year old Hailee Garrett from Wilder, Idaho is on the mend, ophthalmologist Randall Olson says her eye will never fully recover.

Randall Olson, M.D., Moran Eye Center: “She’s going to have a permanent loss in association with just a stupid, just a stupid act.”

Hailee was simply outside with some friends when some seniors from her school drove by and fired paintballs at them. One hit her in the eye.

Hailee: “They don’t understand anything that I’ve gone through.”

Dr. Olson: "It doesn't get much worse than this. She's had her cornea split. She's had part of the cornea shaved off - that's the window to the eye. The retina is scarred."

Hailee played on several school teams. But with numerous treatments, including three surgeries to date, she's had to drop out - all because she was shot with what was believed to be a harmless paintball toy.

Dr. Olson: "It's the side of the paintball business or sport or whatever you want to call it that is kind of a dark and dirty side."

Hailee: "I don't want them even to be sold for use out of controlled facilities. They're not toys, they're weapons."

Coincidentally, on the same day Hailee was having her eyes checked, a second patient, 26-year old Ryan Butterfield also came in with a paintball injury.

In Ryan's case, he had just finished a game and had lifted the shield over his eyes.

Ryan Butterfield: "I thought I had my gun on safety, but apparently I didn't. And I went to set it down and it went off and shot me right in the brow."

If the paintball had hit Ryan directly in the eye at that close range, the injury would have been devastating.

Dr. Olson says he's really concerned about the paint ball guns that are sold in catalogs and some retail stores. In fact, one product now is fully automatic.

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