By: Dr Mahipal Singh Sachdev
The jubilant spirit of Diwali, with its vibrant colours, crackling sounds, and mesmerizing lights, brings joy to millions across the country. The aesthetic allure of firecrackers adds an extra layer of celebration, turning it into a season of fun and revelry. However, it is crucial to acknowledge that unsafe celebrations can transform joyous occasions into tragic ones, especially considering the poor Air Quality Index (AQI) during Diwali. Last year alone, unofficial figures reported over 200 eye injuries during the Diwali season, serving as a grim reminder of the potential dangers that lurk amid the festive cheer.
Diwali, known as the festival of lights, can swiftly turn into a season of miseries if necessary care and caution are overlooked. The consequences of unsafe celebrations can range from eye injuries to severe burns, leading to a significant number of people losing eyesight and sustaining injuries. The Centre for Sight group of Hospitals emphasizes the importance of adopting a safety-first approach and understanding the potential risks, particularly to the eyes.
Despite the enchanting display of firecrackers, they pose a serious risk of ocular trauma in various forms. Entry of foreign bodies can cause irritation, sparks may lead to burns or perforating injuries on the face, and individuals may experience symptoms like diminished vision, redness, inability to open the eyes, and watery eyes. Shockingly, a significant portion of these injuries involves children under 15 years of age, constituting 70% of the cases.
Despite the annual precautions and warnings, the cases of eye injuries are on the rise. Children continue to lose their vision during the festive season, even with prompt treatment. Eye injuries, no matter how minor, can lead to vision loss, making it essential for parents to keep a close eye on their kids.
The Centre for Sight group of Eye care hospitals offers practical guidelines to ensure a safe and joyful Diwali celebration:
- Wear Protective Goggles: Utilize 3M goggles while lighting fireworks to shield your eyes from potential injuries.
- Safe Ignition: Try to avoid bursting crackers (also banned in various states). Use incense sticks to ignite crackers, providing a safe distance. Celebrate in groups to enhance safety.
- Immediate Response: In case of any accident, promptly wash the eyes with cold water for at least 15 minutes.
- Use Caution with Contact Lenses: If using contact lenses, flush them immediately in case of any accident. If symptoms persist, consult an eye specialist.
- Avoid Rubbing Eyes: In case of injury, refrain from rubbing the eyes or using any ointment.
- Opt for Cotton: Use cotton cloth instead of synthetic materials in case of injury.
- No Washing for Cuts: If cuts are present, avoid washing the eyes.
- Precautionary Measures: Check for any obstructions before lighting aerial fireworks as a precautionary measure.
Following these do’s and don’ts can prevent the loss of eyesight or any other mishaps during the ensuing Diwali festival. Never assume any injury is harmless, as even the minutest injury can be vision-threatening. Prevention is better than cure, and avoiding circumstances that necessitate a cure is crucial. Basic knowledge about primary eye care can make treatment easier and faster.
As Diwali approaches, we wish for a Happy, Safe, and Prosperous Diwali to all. The key to a joyous celebration lies not just in the brilliance of the fireworks but in ensuring the safety of our eyes, the windows to our soul. Moreover, with the prevailing poor AQI during Diwali, it becomes even more imperative to celebrate responsibly, safeguarding both our eyes and the environment. (The author is the Chairman – Centre For Sight Group of Hospitals)