Ocular injury from foam dart (Nerf) blasters: a case series

Shai Cohen, Eric J. Shiuey, Dinah Zur, Rony Rachmiel, Shimon Kurtz, Daphna Mezad-Koursh, Michael Waisbourd*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To report clinical outcomes following ocular injury from foam dart (nerf) blasters - a spring-loaded toy guns that fire foam-coated darts or bullets at a relatively low velocity. These guns gained popularity in recent years among children and adolescents. Eleven patients with ocular injuries from foam dart blasters were included in this retrospective, single-center study. Visual acuity (VA), intraocular pressure (IOP), and anterior segment, glaucoma-related, and vitreoretinal complications were recorded at each visit. The average age at presentation was 13.4 years and 82% were male. Mean initial VA was 6/12 (range 6/6 – 1/18); On initial examination, nine patients (82%) had hyphema, three (27%) had corneal abrasions, three (27%) had vitreous hemorrhage, and two (18%) had traumatic mydriasis. Four patients (36%) experienced glaucoma-related complications, including three (27%) with angle recession and three (27%) with increased IOP. Three patients (27%) were diagnosed with posterior segment injuries, including three (27%) with commotio retinae and one (9%) with severe retinal photoreceptor damage. No patients required surgical intervention. Conclusion: Foam dart blasters can cause severe blunt ocular trauma and permanent visual loss, illustrating the need for eye protection when handling these toys.What is Known:• Foam dart blasters, a blanket term for spring-loaded toy guns that fire foam-coated darts or bullets at a relatively low velocity, have gained popularity in recent years among pediatric populations, with an increase in associated ocular injuries.• To date, scattered case reporting provides insufficient insight into the full clinical spectrum of injury and prognosis of foam dart blasters related ocular injury.What is New:• This case series characterizes the myriad foam dart blasters injuries that may afflict the eye, most of which are self-limiting, but some of which may result in poor visual outcomes and lifelong disability in pediatric patients.• We strongly recommend that all users wear eye protection while using foam dart blasters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1099-1103
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Journal of Pediatrics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2023


  • Angle recession
  • Foam dart blaster
  • Hyphema
  • Nerf toy gun
  • Ocular injury


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