Holi and Rangpanchami are festivals of color. They signify the end of the cold winter and welcome warmth and gaiety. However, it is up to us to take care that this festive mood is not spoilt by eye injuries caused by color going into the eye.
The first type is a mechanical one, due to physical trauma (by hand/fingernails). It could range from a superficial corneal (outer transparent portion of the eye) abrasion to a large corneal epithelial defect. This causes watering, pain, and light sensitivity. It needs to be treated as soon as possible, or else the defect can get infected, leading to permanent scarring and vision loss.
Water balloons hitting the eyes
forcefully can also cause blunt trauma and bleeding inside the eye and other dangerous and long-lasting damage like the formation of cataract with dislocation of the crystalline lens, glaucoma
, vitreous hemorrhage or even retinal detachment
. An eye with severe injury from a water balloon may permanently lose vision.
Secondly, the color could cause allergic reactions to the outer portion of the eye and eyelids (conjunctivitis and dermatitis). These cause itching, redness, and swelling.
The third category is of a more serious nature and that is deep chemical burns. Natural colors, made from flower extracts, are not so harmful to the eyes. But chemical colors are also widely used. The colors contain lead oxide, copper sulfate, heavy metals, and acids, and alkalis. Alkalis, are most harmful and they cause destruction of corneal regenerating cells, causing permanent scarring (white discoloration) and even deeper damage and irreversible shrinking of the entire eye.
So it is very essential for everyone to know the precautions to be taken while enjoying the colors of Holi.
1. Use natural chemical-free colors.
2. Use protective eyewear, such as fiber glasses or sunglasses.
3. Avoid the use of large water balloons
4. If the color goes into the eye, do not rub the eyes at all.
5. Wash the face and gently open the eye and see for any cuts or bleeding. If this is present, then seek medical aid immediately without any further home intervention.
6. If there are no cuts, but powder/liquid can be seen in the eye, wash it with clean drinking water, by taking water in clean cupped hands and opening and closing the eye several times in the water. Or wash under a gentle stream of tap water. Do not splash water forcefully on the eyes. If lubricating eye drops (tear substitutes) are available, instill them several times. Do not instill any other over-the-counter drops. Do not try to remove any particles or foreign bodies with handkerchiefs or fingers. Reach an eye doctor immediately. A Family physician could help in the immediate aid, but a thorough eye check-up under a microscope by an Eye specialist is essential.
7. Do not delay medical aid, thinking that the irritation or pain will go off in a while.
These precautions, if taken on time, can be sight-saving, and not let the incidence deprive you of the joy of Holi.
Dr. Bapaye Eye Hospital wishes you all a happy, safe, and colorful Holi.
Dr. Charuta Bapaye
Dr. Bapaye Eye hospital, Nashik