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20 Mar 2013
39-year-old says no to chemical Holi after almost losing eyesight

At the Gupta household in sector 28, Vashi, Holi used to be a grand celebration. In fact, Rakesh and his wife Veenu were known to venture out for a lively splash with their neighbours. This year, though, things aren’t looking that colourful for them.

Last Holi instilled a sense of fright in 39-year-old Veenu, who thought she was on the verge of losing vision after some chemical colours penetrated deep into her eyeballs, stinging her with pain.  She has, therefore, decided to abstain from indulging in any play involving chemicals starting this year. “My husband and I have always loved celebrating the festival. Just like all the years before, we went to enjoy Holi with our housing federation group last year. We were having a gala time at the ground, with each one colouring another’s face, head, cheeks etc. 

After a point I could not even realise who was applying colour on me,” recalled Veenu. Everything was hunky dory for this Navi Mumbaikar till the time she returned home and went to take a bath. The water and colour entered her eyes, causing an unexpected irritation. She dismissed it as the post-Holi cleanup peeve, and began washing and rinsing her eyes liberally. But the pain was aggravating every second.

Smarting under the twinge, she immediately told her husband and he started looking out for a doctor. But it seemed difficult getting hold of one to treat her eyes on a public holiday. “Luckily, my neighbour is an eye doctor and was kind enough to help us. He started the treatment immediately. A mini medical procedure was required to be performed to remove thechemical particles that had gone inside my eyes,” said Veenu. Dr Chandan Pandit, who treated her, said, “She came to me with internal bleeding in her eyes. She was also witnessing excruciating pain.” 

Veenu said at one point she was so afraid that she felt she might lose her eyesight. “The thought of living with one eye was really scary. We always made it a point to buy organic colours but one can’t say the same for others. You need to understand that the colours you bring are not what are used on yourself.”

Though Veenu recovered after a week of fuzzy vision and can see just fine now, the incident has left its blot: she refuses to play Holi anymore. “I would not celebrate Holi as far as possible. If anyone comes to apply colour on me, I would check the colour twice before allowing them to use it on me,” Veenu said.

Dr Pandit said, “People should be careful while celebrating Holi as there are high chances of long-lasting damage due to chemicals. If there is severe pain in the eyes or irritation elsewhere, it’s better to show it to a doctor rather than treating it at home.” 

Defence tactics on Holi
Dr Vandana Jain, Cataract and Refractive surgeon from Advanced Eye Hospital and Institute in Navi Mumbai recommends:
>> Use sunglasses to protect your eyes from coloured water
>> If colours get into your eyes, wash your eyes profusely with large amounts of clean water at room temperature.
>> If symptoms like redness, watering, pain or irritation persist visit an eye doctor. Do not rub or massage your eyes.
>> If you get hit in the eye with a water balloon, cover the eye with a clean cloth and rush to the doctor.
>> Contact lenses absorb and concentrate any colour that gets in the eyes. Hence, use disposable contact lenses if you wish to and dispose them soon after you're done playing.
>> If you are travelling by car, keep the windows closed.
>> Apply a thick coating of cold cream in the area around your eyes. This ensures that the colour comes off easily. Keep your eyes tightly closed while washing off the colour.