What is holi?
Holi, the festival of colours is one of the most rejoicing festivals in India. Vibrant colours seen everywhere in a cheerful and delightful environment brings happiness and excitement with it.
In earlier times, Gulal powders were prepared from natural flowers such as the Indian coral tree and the flame of the forest, that had medicinal properties and were also beneficial to the skin.
On the other hand, the colours available in the market today contain toxic chemicals which are not certified as fit for use on human skin, let alone eyes. Most of these colours, especially the dry coloured powder, gulal, contain toxic chemicals like lead oxide, copper sulphate, heavy metals, acids, alkalis, mica, asbestos, talc, silica, and powdered glass. Liquid colours are often dissolved in an alkaline base, and this, if instilled in the eye, is more harmful than acids.
What will happen if the holi powder or coloured water enters the eye?
As fun as it is to play with colours, if not careful and the holi powder or liquid gets into your eyes, it may cause one or more of these problems:
- Allergic conjunctivitis – powder can cause allergy and thus cause intense redness, irritation, and burning sensation
- Corneal Abrasions – minor scratches can appear on the corneal surface causing intense pain, watering
- Chemical Injury – acid or alkali in colour powder can cause more inflammation resulting in whitening of cornea and loss of vision
- Blunt Injury – a colour filled water balloon can cause blunt trauma with increased intraocular pressure and subluxation of the lens.
- Sometimes may even result in a vitreous haemorrhage.
Is it safe to wear contact lenses while playing holi?
Wearing contact lenses while playing holi can be harmful and hence is advisable to avoid wearing them. If you cannot do without them, then make sure you avoid getting colour into your eye. If the colour does get into your eye, discard the lenses and wash your eyes with clean water immediately. The colours can get trapped in the lens which results in infection.
How to safeguard your eyes during the festival of colours?
Being mindful while using the colours will help avoid unnecessary complications related to skin and eyes. Here are a few tips to safeguard your eyes while enjoying the festival of colours:
- Wear sunglasses: Guard your eyes with protective eyewear while playing Holi.
- Tie your hair: Remember to tie your hair so that colours can’t drip in your eyes from anywhere.
- Avoid rubbing your eyes: If colours get inside your eyes, don’t rub. Rubbing can make it worse. Rinse with clean, fresh water immediately.
- Apply oil: Apply a thick layer of coconut oil so that colour doesn’t easily stick to your eyes and surrounding areas. Oil application also makes it easy to wash off the colours later.
- Keep colours away from eyes and surrounding areas
- Say ‘NO’ to synthetic colours and choose non-toxic colours: Wherever possible, make your own colours using kitchen ingredients like besan, rose petals, flowers, spinach, etc
- Avoid throwing balloon colours: Playing with water balloons is a favourite thing for many people on Holi. While it physically hurts, it can be severely damaging to the eyes and head.
- Avoid contact lenses during holi: Restrain wearing contact lenses as the lens can break in the eyes with the sudden pressure of water or may retain the powder colours causing an infection.
- Avoid colour if already suffering from any eye conditions or diseases
- Keep anti-allergic medicines handy for emergencies
What to do if the gulal gets into your eyes?
Here are a few recommendations on what you can do if the holi colours or water gets into your eyes:
- Stay calm
- Remove contact lenses if you are wearing them
- Wash your eyes with lots of clean drinking water –
- Cup your palms gently and fill them up with clean water. In the absence of drinking water, tap water may be used.
- Gently lower your face, and try and open your eyes to the water in your palms.
- Blink frequently and try to move your eyes around to help rinse off the colour.
- Do not splash water into the eye, since that can aggravate the injury.
- Alternatively, the eyes can also be washed under a gentle stream of water from a shower or a tap.
Post Holi Eye Care Tips
Eyes are your window to the world. They are one of the most essential organs of your body. Treating them as they should be is crucial. After playing Holi, a complete eye care regime should be followed.
- Eye care: It takes multiple baths to completely get rid of the colours from the body. Make sure to massage your eyes and surrounding areas. Apply lotion, and creams to moisturize the skin surrounding the eyes.
- Get good sleep: Sound sleep after all the fun helps your eyes relax and rejuvenate.
- Wear sunglasses while going out: People tend to play Holi even after the day has gone. So, it is best advised to keep your sunglasses with you while stepping out of the home to keep your eyes safe.
M M Joshi Eye Institute is open 24/7 and has experts who can attend to any eye-related problems throughout the day and night. Please walk into any of our branches for your regular eye examinations, any eye problems or any holi related mishaps too.
We wish you a safe and joyful holi!