Holi and eye problemsHoli, the festival of colours, is enjoyed by one and all. But apart from the fun you have with bright colours, pichkaris and bhang, you should also pay attention to potential problems that you could be facing. Other than your skin and hair which are bound to come in contact with colours, your eyes are the most vulnerable part that can be damaged. 

Particles of dry colours can directly enter your eyes due to incessant splashing. Wet coloured water sprayed using pichkaris and water balloons can also hit your eyes and can cause an emergency situation. Dr Sanjay Dhawan, Director & HOD Ophthalmology, FMRI, Gurgaon explains ‘Synthetic colours contain heavy metals like lead can cause a lot of eye problems like allergies, conjunctivitis, chemical burns, corneal abrasion or blunt eye injury.’ 

1. Eye allergies: Toxic chemicals from colours can enter your eyes and trigger an allergic reaction. Allergic reaction can cause reddening, swelling and watery eyes.

2. Conjunctivitis: Conjunctivitis (pink eye) is the inflammation of the conjunctiva, a thin layer of tissue lining the inner surface of your eyelid. This transparent layer also covers the white part of your eyes and becomes inflamed due to chemical irritants in Holi colours.

3. Temporary blindness: Colours can enter the eyes and blur your vision for a while. A grey patch may appear on your retina that may cause blocked sight. The problem is worse for people who are fond of water balloons. If accidentally they hit your eyes, you could suffer from permanent blindness due to serious corneal tear or blunt eye injury. ‘Green synthetic colour of Holi may present with fleeting blindness, it’s a sudden vision loss,’ says Dr Dhawan.

4. Scratched cornea: Cornea is the thin, clear layer that covers and protects the iris (coloured part of the eye that encircles the black pupil in the centre of the eye). Any particle that enters the eye gets trapped under the eyelid. Imagine the amount of toxic chemicals that can get trapped when you’re playing with colours. These particles constantly irritate the corneal surface and cause abrasion. ‘Particularly, the shining mica particles in red colour can cause damage to the cornea,’ adds Dr Dhawan.

5. Uveitis (inflammation of the iris): If the chemicals come in contact with the iris, it can cause serious inflammation. ‘Particularly, in people who wear lenses, the effect is doubled because the chemicals can smear the lens and can get trapped between the lens and the eye surface causing infection,’ says Dr Dhawan.

 Dr Dhawan offers some tips that can help you to protect your eyes: 

1. Remove you lenses before stepping out to play Holi. Protect your eyes with sunglasses or protective eye wear while playing Holi. 

2. Apply thick layer of coconut oil around your eyes, so that colour can be removed easily without any harm to eyes. Additionally, cover your eyes tightly when colour is being splashed around you or on you.

3. Tie your hair or use a cap to prevent coloured water dripping in the eyes. In case it enters your eyes, wash them immediately with plain lukewarm water.

4. Avoid touching your eyes or rubbing them as it may cause irritation or vision loss.

5. Be extra careful when someone’s throwing a water balloon at you. Best way is to turn your back to the person. Also, keep anti allergic tablets handy.

If you experience any sort of irritation and notice any undesirable signs like persistent redness, swelling pain in your eyes, call up a doctor immediately.

The safest way to play Holi is to use eco-friendly or natural colours instead of artificial ones. So be safe and wish you a very colourful Holi.  

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