Dr. Soham Basak,
Consultant, Cornea Department,
Disha Eye Hospitals
Diwali is a popular festival, celebrated the world over by the Indian community. It is the time of the year that is all about fabulous lights, sweets and savories, games, and gaiety with family and friends.
Also known as the Festival of Lights, Diwali is celebrated on the night of Amavasya in the month of Kartik. India dresses in its festive best and as darkness falls, cities and villages light up resplendently with lamps while firecrackers streak across the sky.
However, amidst all the fervor and excitement, this is also the time when you need to be extra careful about keeping the most delicate yet important part of the body, the eyes, safe.
So, remember to keep in mind the following simple but useful tips –
· If a splinter (or something hot and burning) gets into the eyes, immediately wash them with plenty of clean water. Use only clean water. Tap water, drinking water – and clean water will do. You can also apply ice or a cold compress if possible. It is important to go to the nearest doctor as quickly as possible. Several eye hospitals keep special night and emergency facilities open during Diwali.
· Wearing plain spectacles (without “power”) goes a long way in safeguarding your eyes. At times, accidents happen when someone in a spirit of excitement and adventure, attempts to burst crackers in dangerous ways. This is extremely foolish. Often, we receive patients with injuries from bombs bursting under earthen pots and pans and badly hurting the individual. At other times, a cracker fails to go off initially, and thereafter someone attempts to light it again when it explodes suddenly right on the face of the person. These have been the causes of hundreds of serious injuries during Diwali over the years and should be prohibited.
· Do not cover crackers with glass bottles, tins, boxes, or earthen pots and pans for sound effects or extra impact. They are capable of bursting into tiny pieces and damaging your eyes forever as they fly around in the immediate vicinity. Burst them in an open area under the sky.
· Do not go near crackers that have failed to explode. Try and quickly extinguish any sparks or shouldering bits that you can see, but from a distance.
· If you are wearing contact lenses, it is advisable not to watch or burst crackers and fireworks yourself They may cause irritation to the eyes if exposed to high heat for a long time.
· In the event of an eye injury, remember not to rub your eyes or use home remedies like turmeric powder, coconut oil, etc. in the eye or area around it. If there are any tiny particles inside the eyes, the injury may worsen. Instead, wash your eyes with clean water for about 10 minutes and thereafter consult an Eye Specialist at the earliest.
· Always remember to wash your hands thoroughly with handwash or soap after making a rangoli or handling fireworks, and before you touch your eyes. Coloured and chalk powder and chemicals used in crackers and fireworks may cause eye irritation and itchiness and in certain cases, irreparable damage.
· Even though fireworks look attractive and bright, it is best to stay away from them. Do not let young children light crackers on their own. If they are bursting crackers, there should always be adult supervision and guidance.
· And finally, keep your ophthalmologist’s and nearest Eye Hospital / Eye Care center’s numbers handy.
These simple precautions will go a long way to ensure safe and happy festivities for you and your loved ones.