Eye-Care While You Enjoy Holi

Dr Mahipal Sachdev, Chairman, Centre For Sight

Season of colors is back again! Blooming flowers are adding color to it. Holi is a festival liked by people of all generations. The children by now must be ready with their colors and “pichkaries”.
Our eyes are among those body parts, which are extremely vulnerable during Holi. Wet colours easily dissolve in water and can easily enters into it.

Uses of synthetic colours that are composed of chemicals retain a great threat to one’s eyes.  Colors contain chemicals like Mercury Sulphite, Lead Oxide and Copper Sulphate that are harmful for the eyes. Exposure to this chemical can result in eye allergy, temporary blindness and conjunctivitis (pink eye). Other health hazards due to exposure to heavy metals include skin allergies, dermatitis, drying and chapping of the skin, skin cancer, rhinitis, asthma and pneumonia.

It may also be a partial vision loss. A gray patch appears on the retina and blocks the sight. It is a serious medical complication and therefore, should not be ignored. A delayed treatment can lead to complete loss of sight. Not only holi colours but also sprays or mace can result in temporary blindness.

Post Holi there is rush of patients in hospitals because of skin, eye or general problems. The eyes are most sensitive part of the body and any chemical if goes in the eye will cause mild allergy to severe chemical burn in the eye. The common eye problems which present during the Holi include

  • Allergic Conjunctivitis
  • Chemical burn
  • Corneal Abrasion
  • Blunt eye injury

The colors used in Holi if they go in the eye usually cause mild redness and irritation. This if does not go in a day or two will need treatment from an ophthalmologist. The particles in color powders (shining mica particles in gulal) can cause damage to the cornea. The patient will have pain and watering from the eye and if not treated in time can cause ulcer/ infection in the eye. The corneal abrasion is an emergency and one should consult the doctor. One should always check if the clarity of vision is affected, then should rush to an eye specialist.

The colors which look so good can be harmful to our eyes or skin.

The balloons used by children during Hoil are most dangerous and can cause blunt eye injury. There can be bleeding within the eye, lens subluxation, macular edema or retinal separation. These can lead to loss of vision or loss of the eye. These are all eye emergencies and should be taken care of as early as possible.

Kindly follow the precautions to avoid damage to your vision 

1.   Cover your eyes – Always cover your eyes whenever there is a chance of colour coming in contact with them. Sunglasses are useful for this.

2.   Keep eyes shut – Try to dissuade people from applying colour all over your face with their hands. If you fail to do so, be especially careful in keeping your eyes and lips tightly shut. Always request the person not to smear the colours near the eyes.

3.   When travelling by car – If you are travelling by car, keep the windows closed. The menace of water balloons can be tackled in this way. Water balloons can be most damaging for your eyes as they can rupture the eyeball or even lead to retinal detachment.

4.   For contact lens wearers – If the eye is exposed to aniline dyes during Holi, it causes great irritation to the eye. The exposure to the dye is increases for those who wear contact lenses. They should immediately discard the contact lens.

The home-made colors are always better than the synthetic colors. Everybody is aware of it and can make these at home. “Haldi” mixed with flour gives yellow color, while petals of flowers of “Tesu/Palash” give you saffron color. The “Beetroot” pieces soaked in water can give magenta color. Even henna powder, gulmohar flowers or hibiscus flowers can be used to make colors. These homemade colors are safe to skin and eyes.

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