A six-year-old has permanent vision loss after being shot in the eye with a toy gun given to him ahead of Christmas.

The boy suffered a serious eye injury when a foam dart from a 'Nerf' gun was fired at him from close range by a friend yesterday.

An Albany Optometrists spokeswoman says the boy was in significant pain when he came in for treatment.

Though he will not lose his eye, he is unlikely to ever regain full vision, she says.

"He's been severely affected. It will improve from what we saw yesterday but it will never be be back to what it was. "It was a huge reduction in normal vision."

She is urging caution giving Christmas toys such as Nerf guns to children.

Helicopter toys with spinning blades can also be dangerous, she says.

"Nerf guns are number one, but helicopters are number two.

"He's a six-year-old kid and it will affect him for the rest of his life.

"You've just got to be aware there is a risk. Anything small that can fit in the eye is a risk."

The six-year-old is the second child reported to be hurt by a Christmas toy this year.

Pukekohe toddler William Ritchie contracted suspected lead poisoning from a cheap toy gun in late November.

He spent a night in agony after playing with the 'Action Team Assault Rifle', found to contain 169 times the level of lead allowed under New Zealand regulations.

His symptoms included severe stomach pain, facial swelling that made it impossible for him to see out of his eye, muscle pain and diarrhoea.