By Dr. Mallika Marshall, WBZ-TVBy Dr. Mallika Marshall

BOSTON (CBS) — 12-year-old Joshua Schermerhorn is lucky he can see anything out of his left eye after an accident with an Airsoft BB gun.

“I thought I was dying,” he said. “I was scared to death. It was so painful I thought I was either gonna be blind or die.”

Joshua was at a friend’s house when he picked up the Airsoft gun, thinking it was a foam pellet gun. He accidentally hit the trigger, and the pellet ricocheted off his nose and into his eye.

Joshua’s mother, Nicole Schermerhorn, said “It looked pretty bad at first. He couldn’t even open his eye, and I thought for sure he was gonna lose his eye or be blind.”

A recent study found injuries in children from non-powder firearms, including paintball, Airsoft, BB and pellet guns, are up more than 500 percent from just a few years ago. Dr. Rick Whitehead is seeing that firsthand.

“These guns are surprisingly popular,” said the ophthalmologist. “There has been a significant increase in marketing to kids.”

While air guns are not classified as firearms under federal law, the National Rifle Association says parents should treat these guns like any firearm.

Jeremy Green of the NRA says it’s important to make sure people sit down and go over the air gun’s owner’s manual, and parents should discuss gun safety with their children.

Doctors and the NRA agree: if one of these guns is in the home, eye protection, safe storage and proper training are all a must.

“Ski googles can be used, or a similar paintball-type mask,” Whitehead said. “These will you full facial protection.

Joshua’s mom says she now knows how important it is to make sure kids are aware of gun safety.

“I think it’s just important everybody be educated on the risks involved,” she says.

Dr. Mallika Marshall

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