Holi is a festival of colours and happiness. Everyone loves splashing buckets of water and loading each other with different colours (gulal), which shows their enjoyment of the celebration. People even hit each other with water balloons around this time. However, the festival can be hazardous for the delicate organs of your body. There is always a risk of the the toxic substances in colours going into your mouth, nose, ears, etc. Sometimes, people go into the celebration zone and end up in accidental cases, ranging from minor to fatal. You should be careful while playing Holi as it can affect your eyes in a way you can't even imagine. There should be strict do's and don'ts even to celebrate this vibrant festival. The eyes are a sensitive and vital organ, and should be taken care of instead of being exposed to such harmful substances. So, Onlymyhealth editorial team talked to Dr. Sameer Kaushal, Head Opthomology, Artemis Hospitals, Gurgaon, about the effects of holi colours on your eyes and ways to prevent damage.
Effects of holi colours on your eyes
Earlier, Holi was played with the colours extracted from flowers. However, the colours available in the market today are artificial colours and contain toxic chemicals and substances, that are not even certified as right to apply on the human skin, eyes are a farther concern. Most of these colours, especially the dry coloured powder, gulal, contains toxic chemicals such as lead oxide, copper sulfate, heavy metals, acids, alkalis, mica, asbestos, talc, silica and powdered glass. On the other hand, liquid colours are mostly mixed in an alkaline base, and this, if goes in the eye, is even more dangerous than acids.
Alkali injuries are generally not painful, but can be severe for some people. If gone in the eye, all these chemicals can lead to allergic reactions, eye irritation, and even blindness. Even getting hit by a water balloon on or around your eyes can have a lot of negative impacts. Even in this, one might have a loss vision, if the balloon hits you very strongly. The eye injuries can range from mild irritation to deep chemical burns. There are many pre and post Holi tips that can help you in taking care of a lot of things for this annual holiday festival.
How to protect eyes from Holi colours?
Firstly, it is important to keep in mind that you should not force anyone to join the festivities. It is their choice if they want to participate in playing Holi or not. Not forcing someone in itself reduces the chances of anything affecting your eyes. And, there are other things that one should know about as well. So, as per Dr. Sameer, here are some tips to protect eyes from major damage with Holi colours:
1. Use natural or organic colours
It is best to avoid the usage of colours that have toxic chemicals and opt for traditional natural organic colours that are made from flowers and turmeric. These colours have an amazing fragrance, look beautiful, are good for the skin, and have medicinal properties as well. Most of the colours that are available in the market today contain hazardous substances such as mercury, asbestos, silica, mica, and lead.
2. Wear sunglasses
You should also use clear glasses or if in the sun, have sunglasses to protect your eyes from coloured water and powder. You can even wear a hat to protect your eyes in such cases. Sunglasses are one of the best ways to protect you eyes from harmful Holi colours and preventing eye injury from accidents while playing.
3. Remove contact lenses
If you are wearing your contact lenses, then it should be removed before playing Holi. Contact lenses have the tendency to absorb the harmful chemicals in colours, which then can be extremely dangerous for your eyes. These chemicals keep on and stay on the lenses, which leads to long term and major damage to the surface of the eyes.
4. Do not rub your eyes
Another tip to prevent major damage to the eyes is that you should not rub them. Try and avoid touching your face and eyes while actually playing Holi, but also do not forget to cover your eyes and nose while playing with gulal. However, it is advisable to cover the nose and the eyes with a clean cloth, face mask or scarf. This should be done as your hands might be dirty, which can lead to eye infections. And, the colour on your hands can get in any part of your body, causing damage.
5. Do not force anyone to celebrate with colours harshly
Do not try and pull anyone into celebrating the festival of Holi as people who are forced often lead to having unwanted injuries. People who want to participate in the celebrations will be prepared with their pro tips, such as sunglasses and hat, to protect their eyes. This should especially be implemented if you are playing Holi with dry colours. If you use these colours on someone who is not aware, then he or she is at a risk of inhaling the toxic colours, and the colours might also damage their eyes, even resulting in vision loss.
What to do if Holi colours go into your eyes?
What if Holi colours actually go into your eyes? Here are some tips that can help in coping up with the damage:
1. Stay calm
It is important for the affected person to stay calm and the people around him/her should also not overreact if Holi colours go into the eyes as this can worsen the situation in many ways. Avoid overcrowding around that person, and do not blame each other at that particular moment as the first priority is to find a solution and not grumble. Any chaos will put the treating process in jeopardy. Also, you should be thinking clearly and logically in such cases of an emergency.
2. Wash with clean water
If colours go into your eyes, it is important to try and remove as much of the colour from the eye as is possible, immediately. You can wash your eyes with clean drinking water. A normal diagnosis will tell you about any cuts inside the eyeball. If there are any cuts present, then you should not try treating it yourself and go to the emergency room immediately.
3. Use lubricating eye drops
If you have any lubricating eye drops with yourself, then you can easily hydrate your eyes with them. However, it is advised to talk to a doctor before using any kind of eye drops for such reasons. The drops can help in reducing the irritation and will also eliminate the harmful chemical colours inside the eye. In an emergency case, you might also use an antibiotic eye drop as an alternative, if prescribed by the doctor.
4. Get medical treatment
In the case of worsening redness, watering, discharge and itching in the eyes, you should not wait before getting an eye care expert's help. It is important to get checked from a professional. If you have blurred vision, foreign body in the eye, laceration of the eye, or bleeding from the eye or around the eyes, then also you should rush to the emergency as soon as possible.
So, these were some prevention and protecting tips for your eyes while playing Holi. Follow these simple tips and you can have a damage free festival. You can talk to an ENT specialist for other measures to take during this celebration. Just stay safe and enjoy!
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