Water balloons used by children during Holi can be dangerous and can cause blunt eye injury or even head injury. There can be bleeding in the eyes, lens subluxation, macular edema or retinal detachment. These can lead to loss of vision or even loss of the eye.

Most synthetic colours are harmful to the eyes or skin.  Home-made colours from flowers are always better. Chemical colours may contain heavy metals like lead, which is harmful to the eyes and skin. Other health hazards due to the exposure to heavy metals include skin allergies, dermatitis, drying and chapping of the skin, skin cancer, rhinitis, asthma and pneumonia.

Make your own colours

  • Mix ‘Haldi’ (turmeric) with besan (gram flour) to get yellow colour
  • Soak Tesu flowers overnight or boil them to get saffron or bright orange colour.
  • Soak ‘Beetroot’ pieces in water for magenta colour.

Chemicals that enter the eye may cause mild allergy or even severe chemical burn in the eye. A patient may present with allergic conjunctivitis, chemical burn, corneal abrasion or blunt eye injury. Most colours used during Holi usually cause mild redness and irritation lasting for up to 48 hours. If clarity of vision is affected, it’s an emergency. The particles in colour powders (shining mica particles in ‘gulal’) can cause damage to the cornea. Corneal abrasion is an emergency and one should immediately consult the eye doctor or ophthalmologist.

First aid: Splash your eyes with a lot of tap water, if colour enters the eye. If there is loss of vision or corneal abrasions, rush to the eye doctor.