Safety on this Diwali: an eye for an eye of your loved one
Diwali is the biggest festival in India celebrated on the occasion of the return of Lord Ram with his wife Sita and brother Laxman after 14 years of his exile or “Vanwaas” to his kingdom.
The joy and splendour of this festival is just incomparable. May it be the delicacies prepared at this time, or the endless shopping we do. But nowadays this festival other than all this is known for the abundant bursting of firecrackers. Of course how can we forget the baccha company whose excitement is at it’s peak for bursting them. But the fact we fail to understand are the injuries they cause. The common site of injuries due to them are hands(fingers) which can get healed after a few days of treatment but many a times the cause a permanent damage to a very delicate organ that is EYES.
Facts and figures
Three major studies published from the three corners of India (Chandigarh, Mumbai & Bengaluru) shows that firecracker injuries affect mainly (> 80 %) youngster (>90% are less than 20 years) and 90 % of them are unsupervised by adults. More than 50% of the injury occurs to the innocent people standing nearby. Almost 50 % patients lose their vision who had significant injury from firecrackers. When compared with those who lost vision to those who didn’t, unfortunately most significant factor after grade of injury was found to be delayed presentation and inadequate treatment due to the unavailability of doctors specialized in ocular trauma.
Irritation by smoke emitting crackers
Smoke emitted by crackers can not only aggravate asthma but also causes allergy to the eyes to the person sensitive to it. Therefore, use firecrackers in open areas, wear protective goggles and avoid standing against the wind. Wash your hands frequently to avoid contact with eyes as much as possible.
Gunpowder is a mixture of charcoal, Sulphur, potassium nitrate, cellulose nitrate together with metallic salts like barium, sodium, lithium, magnesium, strontium, iron, titanium and zinc. Therefore, the gunpowder can cause chemical injury to eye. Also, the heat produced can cause burns especially by sparklers in which temperature is as high as 1000 degree centigrade causing third degree burns.
Bursting of cracker leads to the production of high velocity projectiles which can shockingly cause serious injury to eye like hemorrhage, bursting of eyeball or penetrating injuries with lodging of foreign body inside eye. Because of their chemical nature, foreign body from firecrackers should be removed immediately to avoid irreparable damage to eyesight.
Firecrackers should be used in open spaces like playgrounds or park. Always keep a bucket of water and sand ready in case of an accidental fire. Avoid bursting crackers in small confined spaces, near vehicles or in busy streets (you might be ready but not the passerby). Wear protective goggles, and avoid synthetic and very loose fitting/tight fitting clothes. Children should always be supervised by responsible adults. bursting crackers under old tin boxes or pots is strictly a NO. Most injuries are caused during relighting of crackers, so it is best to avoid it. Enlightening of crackers should be done at arm’s length and distance of a few meters should be maintained during watching them.
Protective eye gears
Sight is the most precious of five senses given to human by god. While bursting of crackers eyes should be protected by good quality goggles/spectacles (fiber/polycarbonate lens). One should avoid using contact lens and instead use glasses which provides better protection and decreases the risk of irritation and redness of eyes afterwards.
In case of injury
After occupational injuries, injury by firecrackers is the second most common cause for loss of sight in young adults and the most common cause in children. In case of firecrackers injury if the eyeball is intact, wash your eyes and face thoroughly after washing your hands. Avoid rubbing your eyes and wash them with a generous amount of clean water (drinking water and avoid overhead tank water) to washout the gunpowder as much as possible. If there is bleeding from the eye patch then clean the eye with a clean cloth and visit your eye specialist immediately. No matter how much insignificant an injury seems, one should always consult an eye specialist preferably retina surgeon at the earliest.
Madhav Netralaya, Nagpur’s first and most advanced tertiary eye institute and research Centre, is equipped to treat all your eye problems.