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The number of children who sustained eye injuries from “airsoft” guns grew by over 500% in the two years to 2012, according to a Stanford University study.

Some 3,000 children suffered injuries to their eyes from pressurized airguns that year, more than five times as many as in 2010. “These results demonstrate that air guns can cause severe, yet preventable, eye injury among the pediatric population,” study co-author Douglas Frederick said in a statement posted to Stanford medicine’s official blog.

The guns, which use pressurized air to fire plastic pellets at speeds topping 120 meters per second, have grown in popularity as a less risky alternative to BB guns and live ammunition.

John Steele, an industry spokesperson, told the Wall Street Journal that airsoft gun makers stress the importance of parental supervision in warning labels and shooting events. “We work like crazy to try to get parents more involved in supervising their kids,” Steele said.

Read more at the Wall Street Journal.

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