Safe Holi: Balloons may be Harmful

Dr KK Aggarwal
Padma Shri and Dr B C Roy National Awardee
President, Heart Care Foundation of India

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 floral colours 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 floral colours

1. Mix ‘Haldi’ (turmeric) with flour to get yellow colour
2. Petals of flowers of ‘tesu’ give saffron colour.
3. ‘Beetroot’ pieces soaked in water can give magenta colour.

What to do: Chemicals that goes in 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 upto 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 a lot of tap water if any colour enters the eye. If there is vision loss, corneal abrasions, rush to the eye doctor.