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Holi: A Splash of Colours with a Dash of Safety

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Mumbai, 17th March 2022: Holi is celebrated for a multitude of reasons all over India. For most of us urbanites, it’s just another reason to enjoy the riot of colours with our friends and neighbours. Holi has not been left untouched by the changing face of time. A festival that was once played with flowers and natural home-made colours has now been replaced by glittering chemical colours, water balloons and fancy water guns. And an obvious corollary to this, are eye injuries.

Ophthalmologists see a sudden upsurge in cases of eye troubles during Holi. Some of the eye problems seen during Holi are:

Corneal abrasions (scratches on the clear outer dome of one’s eye)

Chemical burns to the eyes

Allergic conjunctivitis (swelling of the outermost transparent layer of the eye due to allergies to the chemicals)

Trauma to the eyes due to the impact of water balloons can cause bleeding inside the eye, dislocation of the lens of the eye, retinal detachment (separation of the photosensitive layer of the eye called the retina), macular edema (swelling of the central portion of the retina)

Speaking on this Dr Vandana Jain, Regional Head, Clinical Services, Dr Agarwal Eye Hospital, Mumbai said, “Many of these injuries can cause severe impact on the vision unless managed urgently.
In big metro cities like Mumbai, fortunately the incidence of severe eye injuries which happen due to the physical injuries have gone down. This may be due to reduced usage of water balloons in the bigger cities. Overall, even though the incidence of serious holi related eye injuries have gone down, but for days after holi, children and young adults, keep presenting with eye redness, irritation, light sensitivity etc. Most of these stems from either the colours or the Gulal getting into the eye or accidental finger injury to the eye.”

She further added, “If colours do get into your eyes, mild irritation and redness may be caused which goes down after splashing sufficient water to wash it out. However, if intense burning, pain or troubles with vision persist, one must rush to an eye doctor. Many people believe that contact lenses are a safe option during Holi. The truth is that contact lenses absorb and concentrate any eye colour that gets into the eye. Hence, they cause great damage to the eyes. If one needs to use contacts, one must use disposable ones and discard them as soon as one is done playing.”

Natural colours are a much safer option. Haldi with besan for Yellow, Petals of the flowers of Palash or Gulmohar for Saffron, Beetroot soaked in water for pink, Hibiscus for red are equally fun! This Holi let your eyes enjoy the joie de vivre that Holi is meant to be.
Eye Care Tips for a Pleasant Holi:
Better Safe than Sorry:

To ensure that the colour comes off easily after you have played, apply a thick coat of cold cream in the region around your eyes. This helps ensure that the colour comes off easily when you wash up later. Do remember to keep your eyes tightly closed while washing off the colour

If you are required to travel by car, do keep the windows closed. Many a random water balloon has found its way into the eye of an unsuspecting passer-by.

Encourage your children to use non-toxic colours.

Remember to use Sunglasses / Protective Eye Wear to protect your eyes from coloured water

In case of Eye Injuries:

If colours do get into your eyes, wash your eyes with large amounts of clean room temperature water.

If symptoms like redness, watering, pain, irritation, or sensitivity to light persist, do visit an eye doctor. Do not rub or massage your eyes.

If you get hit in the eye with a water balloon, cover the eye with a clean cloth and rush to the doctor at the earliest

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