After witnessing two pediatric eye injuries within a year, doctors at the University of Illinois, Chicago are concerned over the possible risks that collapsible wire laundry hampers pose towards children.

Keon Reeves was throwing his clothes into his pop-up laundry hamper when the metal wire in the lining snapped free and hit him in the eye. The eleven-year-old was rushed to the hospital where Dr. Iris Kassem, a pediatric opthamologist at the University of Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary, discovered severe damage to Keon's cornea and retina.

"The kind of injury he had is devastating, and the chance of him having good vision in the end is unlikely," Dr. Kassem told CBS Chicago in November.

The second case involved a 23-month-old named Janiah Peete who was poked in the eye by a wire slightly protruding from the cloth mesh of a similar hamper.

Given they are springy and light, kids often play with collapsible wire hampers as if they are toys.

Thanks to the speedy and expert work of Kassem and his team, both patients were able to retain much of their vision, but through the use of corrective glasses or contact lenses. Both children were left with slight deviations in the alignment of their eyes, in other words, a lazy eye and exotropia.

The doctors' recommendations for treating these injuries, along with case details, were published today in the journal Pediatrics.

Both families are preparing lawsuits. A third incident with a Chicago-area child settled for over $600,000.

The case report mentions that a label on Keon's hamper recommended that it be discarded if the cloth mesh appears damaged.

"However, given the recent injuries despite such a warning, it appears that this warning label has been inadequate to prevent ongoing traumatic eye injuries," wrote the authors. "It is thus important for parents, manufacturers, retailers, pediatricians, and health care staff to be aware of this risk and to take steps to help prevent further cases of severe eye injuries caused by these laundry hampers."

 

Source: Prickett AL, Salar S, Chow CC, et al. Traumatic Eye Injuries From Collapsible Wire Laundry Hampers. Pediatrics. 2013.