Deepavali festivities often result in a significant number of eye injuries caused by fireworks. The eyes are the second most common area of the body to be affected, following the hands and fingers. The common injuries are attributed to sparklers, bombs, and ‘Chakra’ crackers.
Dr. Bindiya Hapani, Head Clinical Services at Dr. Agarwals Eye Hospital says “It is not only those who handle fireworks who are at risk but also bystanders, with over 50% of them facing potential eye injuries. Street by-passers exposed to ignited firecrackers in the streets are also vulnerable. Injuries range from mild irritation and corneal abrasions to more severe complications like corneal damage and open globe injuries that can lead to potential blindness. Chemical injuries result from the chemicals in the gunpowder mixed in the fireworks. Smoke can cause eye irritation, and fumes can lead to throat infections. Sparklers are particularly dangerous, burning at temperatures hot enough to melt gold, causing severe burns and injuries.
Precautions must be taken to avoid these injuries. Most fireworks contain gunpowder, which makes their explosions unpredictable, even when handled carefully or under supervision. The surge in nitrous oxide and sulfur dioxide levels during Diwali contributes to peak pollution levels. Noise pollution also exceeds permitted levels, and small particles from firecrackers can cause mechanical damage to tissues.
Contact lens wearers should exercise extra caution when bursting crackers, as prolonged exposure to heat can lead to irritation. The extent of eye damage from a cracker depends on its velocity, chemical reactions, and thermal burns says Dr Hapani
Patients with closed eye injuries can be treated on an outpatient basis, while open eye injuries and other severe cases will require admission for further management and observation.
Do’s and Don’ts:
- Do not rub or scratch your eyes.
- Wash your eyes and face thoroughly.
- If you feel irritation or have a foreign body in your eye, flush your eyes with water.
- If a particle is stuck or large, do not try to remove it. Seek immediate medical attention.
- In case of chemical exposure to the eyes, irrigate them with water for 30 minutes and consult an eye doctor.
Do’s and Don’ts for Children:
- Do not rub the affected eye.
- Do not apply pressure to the affected eye.
- Avoid using over-the-counter medicines.
- Do not allow children to play with fireworks, even with supervision.
- Always burst crackers in open spaces, wearing goggles and washing hands with clean water.
- Supervise children when they play with fireworks.
- Keep a bucket of water and sand ready for accidental fires.
- Store fireworks safely away from children’s reach.
- Keep fireworks away from your face, hair, and clothing.
- Avoid wearing synthetic clothing while handling fireworks.
- Maintain a safe distance while lighting or watching fireworks.
- Remove contact lenses before bursting crackers and use glasses instead.
- Properly dispose of used fireworks by soaking them in a bucket of water.
- Wear sturdy slippers to protect your feet from burnt crackers.