Holi amid the COVID era
Dr. Ritika Sachdev
While the festival of color will bring a whole new different complexion this year due to the affliction of the Corona Virus, and its second wave persisting, people need to maintain social distancing norms and necessary precautions while enjoying holi.
Though the largest vaccination drive is on its roll throughout the Nation, yet people need to be careful and follow the protective measures at all times. Since holi is not only a festival of gatherings, but also a fear that may contract the deadly virus. Apart from the risk of infection, the colors that is most often used may have several health consequences, affecting the skin, hairs, respiratory tract and the eyes on the primary note.
Uses of synthetic colours that are composed of chemicals possess 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.
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.
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 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 detachment. 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.
Taking this opportunity, I would request everyone to enjoy their festivities responsibly, in terms of maintaining the social distancing norms, watchful with the synthetic colors and your health.
(Dr. Ritika Sachdev is the Addl. Director Medical Services, Centre for Sight)