Holi: A Splash of Colours with a Dash of Safety

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Dr. Ashis Ghosh

Pune, 27 march 2021: 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 A festival that was once played with flowers and natural home-made colours has now been replaced by glittering chemical colours, water balloons and fancy water guns.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)

Many of these injuries can cause troubles that can go on to cause temporary blindness and even permanent loss of vision at times.

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.Those wearing spectacles face quite a few issues during Holi. Even if they wear specs, the colour can settle in the minute spaces of the frame. Rimless spectacles also are easily breakable. Hence, it is advised to avoid wearing spectacles.

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.

The author is Senior Consultant – Ophthalmologist, Dr Agarwals Eye Hospital, Pune, Maharashtra

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