While rest of the city heaves a big sigh of relief to enjoy the long break for Deepavali, the doctors are on alert so as to be prepared for any emergencies.
This is the time when injuries peak, especially those related to the eye. It would be just as well if those celebrating the festival too took measures to avoid accidents.
“Incidents of eye injuries have been decreasing over the years with increased awareness,” says Dr T R Ravi, an ophthalmologist who has his practice in Indiranagar.
Although taking the necessary precautions is important, accidents cannot always be avoided, he says.”
Apart from burns and other injuries that could potentially be caused from firecrackers, the fumes emanating from them can also cause irritation.
“It’s not just those who light crackers or the bystanders that it affects. It’s in the air, so it can affect anyone,” says Dr Ravi.
While chemical injuries of the cornea is the most common of the cases he comes across, Dr Ravi says that injuries could occur anywhere from the cornea to the retina, even causing loss of eyesight. “It can cause damage right from the cornea to the retina. The clay pallet that’s at the bottom of the firecracker can fly at you, which could cause aberrations in the cornea, the outer-most layer of your eye. Or if the impact is greater, it could even dislodge your lens and even damage your retina.”
Dr Sathya Kakade, who is a consultant retina surgeon at a city hospital says that the average severe injuries (that require surgical treatment) that the hospital sees is about three to four, every Diwali.
“Minor cases, usually come to our attention a few days after the festival as those injured initially dismiss the injuries,” he says.
“It is important for people to understand that it’s a chemical injury in addition to being a thermal one. So even before you rush someone to the hospital, thoroughly wash the injured eye with potable water,” Dr Kakade advises.
According to him, while awareness has been increasing, the average number of eye injuries during the Diwali season have not dipped as there are still those who want to make merry at the cost of safety, often putting others at risk due to their nonchalance. Ironically, most of Dr Kakade’s patients are either children or the elderly, often people who are merely passing by.
The way ahead, the surgeon believes, is through community celebrations. “This way, experts light the crackers and the others have fun watching. It’s a safer and more environmentally friendly alternative.”