Poi PixiesGOLD Member
Pixie Hoops :: Poi Pixies
3 posts
Location: Vancouver Island, Canada

Hello Everyone,

I have been asked by an "Eye and Eyecare" magazine to do an interview about our fire dancing society and if we give consideration to our eyes, and the protection they need when playing with fire.

We do get to see those crazy tracers the fire and lights leave behind, but if spinning fire becomes an regular hobby can that effect our vision down the road.....and how do you feel about that?

Any feedback would be appreciated and if we use any of the information given I will include your name and info.

Thanks so much!
Shine on & on


- Be the change you want to see in the world -

dj_gooseSunburnt Bournda Beach Bum
157 posts
Location: A Melbourne boy through and through

in all honesty it is not something that botheres me overly, god knows it should after all the blacks i have received and all those that never acctually came out ot be bruised but most likely should have. I don't think that the light and the streaks are newhere near as bad for u as strobe lights however those new fang-dangled flashing LED poi and staff do tend to play with your head a little.

i thik the danger to eyes comes from fuel, the fire itself and the pressure placed on the eye as a direct result of being hit in the eye with one of the toys. I think one of the most painful things i have ever expeinced was when a friend was trying to get excess fuel off his staff by spinning it real fast, which ended wit fuel going all over the shop and into my eyes....it really really hurt and i am positive that it would not have done nething good

however saying that i don't wear glasses to spin, and unless it can be proved to me i some way that i should do, i probably wont

cheers beerchug

Look to the moon, look to the stars, and if you still can't find happyness...find a bar!!!

AzzorBRONZE Member
10 posts
Location: canberra, australia

Somewhere on www.fireninja.com i remember seeing some goggles, i cant find it now tho, sorry frown


onewheeldaveGOLD Member
Carpal \'Tunnel
3,252 posts
Location: sheffield, United Kingdom

Eye issues aren't often mentioned, but they do exist,particularly with fire.

The scariest incident I had with fire was when, I lost my concentration while doing a one handed meteor move.

I got a big wick in my eye and a nasty burning sensation.

I was so lucky to have been doing it outside my flat, rather than an isolated park, because I could get inside and run loads of water over it.

Eventually it eased off enough so that I could pull it open, and was horrifed to see a big mist patch in my vision.

I'd previously read a fire FAQ which stated that some of the toxins in some types of paraffin can spefically attack the corneas.

The mist patch was there all evening, and I spent those hours not knowing whether I'd permanently damaged the sight in that eye.

It was difficult deciding whether to go to the hospital, I figured in the end that, if I did, it would be a three hour wait without access to water for my eye, so I stayed in and just kept rinsing it.

Luckily, next day when I woke it had pretty much cleared, I called down the hospital and the eye specialist didn't have any info on paraffin and its effect on eyes, but he checked for damage/scratches on the eyeball and there wasn't any.

The incident made me acutely aware of how fragile and precious our eyes are.

Although I don't wear eye protection when spinning (that's only becasue I am now fully commited to retaininng focus and not doing moves that I'm not 100% happy with), I do have a set of industrial safety goggles for times when I feel there's a risk e.g. when cutting wire to make wicks.

If I was using some new bit of extreme fire kit, or practicing a new move that could go wrong, I would wear the protection, it's not worth risking your eyes.

"You can't outrun Death forever.
But you can make the Bastard work for it."

"Last of The Lancers"
AFC 32

Educate your self in the Hazards of Fire Breathing STAY SAFE!

duballstarSILVER Member
slack rating - 9.5
2,216 posts
Location: Suburbiton, Yoo-Kay, United Kingdom

i've had burning parafin spray on my face before and it got me pretty worried about getting it in my eyes... i don't wear any protection though, just make sure i shake it off my clubs properly!

wire wool sparks seem pretty perilous as well, i'd hate to imagine what one of those could do!!

as for residual traces i doubt it... if anything's gonna be bad for your eyes it's stuff like TV and Computers which overload them with visual information. our eyes aren't designed to handle it, i reckon it's why so many ppl wear glasses. eek

on that note i'm getting off the machine to go spin some poi..... weavesmiley

It is our fantasies that make us real. Without our fantasies we're just a blank monkey' - Terry Pratchett

Poi PixiesGOLD Member
Pixie Hoops :: Poi Pixies
3 posts
Location: Vancouver Island, Canada

Thank for the replies so far.
Interesting that an eye care magazine is interested?
It is an important issue our eyes and our sight.
I did teach a blind woman how to poi, she was amazing at it, and her interpretation of what it felt like and sounded like was incredible. Perspective is everything.

- Be the change you want to see in the world -

CodySILVER Member
That guy from Reno
556 posts
Location: Reno, Nevada USA

Interesting question, it's much like a Podiatrist asking the guy that gets shot out of a cannon what foot protection he uses, but they rase a good question. I have used eye protection before, but I don't use it consistantly. There is real danger of perminent eye damage, but it is a risk we all take. We could wear helmits and knee pads and wrist guards to protect from other possible accidents, but this art form is rooted in performance, and too much protection takes away from that. It is a risk we take like listening to loud music. I'd suggest to fire spinners who don't perform or during practice to use eye protection. The trick is finding clear lenses for the dark that seal to the skin so fire can't sneak in, oh and it can't be synthetic or else it could melt to the skin which is worse than no protection. I used to wear glasses which helped protect from blunt trauma, but with a lit wick the fire is the issue. We could be firedancing in welding helmets, but it would not be the same.

My worst eye vs fire event happened while saving someone else. It was at Burningman, I had just burned and was providing fire saftey for others. One Girl was wearing nothing but a little synthetic miniskirt thing, (yep nothing it's burningman) I thought it looked inappropriate just then it caught fire. I dove into the circle with my duvi (Fire putter outer cloth) and wrapped it arround her. She panacked and put her poi in my face. I focused on the job at hand and put her out just as others came and put out her poi. She walked away with a big 1st and 2nd degree burn on her thigh, but it was not bad enough for her to leave the festival and go to a hospital. I walked away with my eyelashes sticking together and curly eyebrows. My eyes were fine, thank goodness for eylids. wink

Cody Canon
Controlled Burn, Reno Nevada

onewheeldaveGOLD Member
Carpal \'Tunnel
3,252 posts
Location: sheffield, United Kingdom

Hi Poi Pixie,

Been trying to reply to your pm but it won't send, maybe your inbox is full.

Regarding your request: -

My full name is David Panther, feel free to use the stuff I posted in the 'eye protection' thread.

I'll look forward to recieving a copy of the article.


"You can't outrun Death forever.
But you can make the Bastard work for it."

"Last of The Lancers"
AFC 32

Educate your self in the Hazards of Fire Breathing STAY SAFE!

flidBRONZE Member
Carpal \'Tunnel
3,136 posts
Location: Warwickshire, United Kingdom

Interesting that an eye care magazine is interested?

not really. Pretty much all of my run ins with journalists over the years have taught me that they have a pretty good idea of what they are going to write before they do any research. If the research backs it up then that's great, if not then they have a tendancy to twist your words and try and warp your argument into theirs. Of course, it's important to raise creditability of spinning to the general public, a lot of whom think we're reclously endangering ourselves and everyone around us, so good luck smile

Mags The JediGOLD Member
2,020 posts
Location: Cornwall, UK

Written by: flid

they have a pretty good idea of what they are going to write before they do any research.

Funny, I'm about to start my 3rd year of a Journalism degree, and this is exactly what we're taught to do. smile

I landed a staff end-on in my eye the other day, but i assume i closed my eye before it hit, as I only had a couple of groovy looking scratches on my eye lid and some velcro-like eyelashes. The audience loved it though. Sick, sick b*astards. ubblol

OWD, you have the coolest name ever. You must surely have a super-hero alter-ego? smile


"I believe the cost of life is Death and we will all pay that in full. Everything else should be a gift. We paid the cover charge of life, we were born."

Bill Hicks, February 1988

_Clare_BRONZE Member
Still wiggling
5,967 posts
Location: Belfast, Northern Ireland (UK)

"OWD, you have the coolest name ever."


Getting to the other side smile

flidBRONZE Member
Carpal \'Tunnel
3,136 posts
Location: Warwickshire, United Kingdom

Written by: Flid


good word smile

GnorBRONZE Member
Carpal \'Tunnel
5,814 posts
Location: Perth, Australia

My mates 3 year old dropped him for a good 10 mins with a flag to a unsuspecting eyeball. His eye was still red hours later but he hasnt a black eye.

Is it the Truth?
Is it Fair to all concerned?
Will it build Goodwill and Better Friendships?
Will it be Beneficial to all concerned?

Im in a lonely battle with the world with a fish to match the chip on my shoulder. Gnu in Binnu in a cnu

PyroWillGOLD Member
HoP's Barman. Trapped aged 6 months
4,437 posts
Location: Staines, United Kingdom

I'd also like to add another slight damage to your eye which isnt fuel or nag related, but since we perform at night there is a heavy contrast between dark and light, that is a heavy njob for your eyes. Your circular nd longitudinal muscles in your eye have to keep relaxing and constricting in order to open or close the iris to either let more light in (when there is no fire) or make it smaller when the light is bright, this is a safety measure to protect the back of the eyeball from receiving too much light.

Now when we spin fire our iris will be adjusting rapidly due to cope with the mix levels of light reaching our eyes (so in theory the damage is just like having a light shined into your eye when its dark), this in effect causes an almost muscle fatigue in your eye and is one of the main reasons why our sight fails when we get old simply cos our eye muscles are worn out.

An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind

Give a man a fish and he'll eat 4 a day hit a man with a brick and you can have all his fish and his wife

"Will's to pretty for prison" - Simian

FireByNiteSILVER Member
Are you up for it??
349 posts
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

I find that with wearing glasses, that the difference in light with spinning is less than trying to drive at night in central town in the rain, with some stupid idiot with their lights on high beam. So I have muslcle strain wiht my eyes in general daily stuff.

But the advantage with wearing glasses is that if the poi are going to hit mwe in the eye lit, it will hit my glasses first rather than burn me rolleyes Not that I like wearing glasses, but it does have it's advantages

Are you up for it?

Helen_of_PoiSILVER Member
lapsed spinner
412 posts
Location: Dublin, Ireland

Not sure if it counts, but i find i get sore eyes and headaches from watching some of the super bright flashy aerotech type led poi. It's not so bad if it's me spinning, i think because i look at them less (provided i don't do buzzsaws of course).

I have the same problem from flashing lights, even slow flashing. It sort of disorientates me, and makes it difficult for me to even carry on a conversation if i've been looking at strobing poi for a while. I do think they look great, but i just can't look at them anymore.


EJC Ireland 2006 Organisational Team

Bender_the_OffenderGOLD Member
still can't believe it's not butter
6,979 posts
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Mitigating the risk of eye damage during firetwirling

Preventing dazzled eyes
If you can, create more light in your environment so that you won't twirl in total darkness. Having no ambient light can be troublesome when the flames wreac havoc on your nightvision. It's uncomfortable and can affect your balance or worse still, disorient you so that you'll get lost walk back to a cute group of onlookers.

Eye wear
try not to wear glasses. In my experience, you don't want shrapnel in the eye. wear contacts if your must. i suggest cat ones. Facial injuries in twirling are not unhread of - as a rule, don't expect the worst, but be prepared for it!

Firetwirling technique
twirl away from your face. this may mean widening movements on the front wall plane.
learn to walk before you can run. practice with your firetoys covered up in thin material (old socks will do, PM me if you need sour smelling soiled ones asap) is a good way to famliarise yourself with the weight and handling of firetoys. They handle noticably differently to say, day poi or even rubber chicken. Practicing this is as important for your confidence as it is for your technique and grace.
facing away from the flame. if you are facing forwards, and are performing a forwards movement such as a fwd weave, then your face will be away the trajectory of the poi, though your flammable ponytail wont like it. ("No I don't like it one bit!...wait, i can *talk*! how strange. I braid therefore i am." - ponytail).
Mental space. I note that a more confined space causes the range of body movements to come closer to the body, even if at a subliminal level. In situations where it may appear that you have just enough room, you could find your elbows moving much closer to your torso as you twirl automatically. If so, it reduces the margin of error for which you could endow yourself with a shiner. better to clear more space if you can.

It does not hurt to have first aid or at least some saline handy, so that you can flush your eyes should misadventure happen. i like that word. flussssssh.

...and above all, love to twirl! everyone loves it!
"Even me, cus twirling rocks, er.. dude!" - Michael Jackson.

Laugh Often, Smile Much, Post lolcats Always

fNiGOLD Member
master of disaster
3,354 posts
Location: New York, USA

back in the day, i messed up on a rev buzzsaw, and got smacked right next to my nose with a lit poi; nothing happened, and i just had a black smudge on my cheek; that being said, when I've done wire wool, I make sure to keep my eyes closed, or nearly, because the brilliance of the sparks can be quite blinding.

kyrian: I've felt your finger connect with me many times
lou kitten: sneaky little meatball..
ezz: please corrupt me more