Radhatri Nethralaya Eye Hospital conducted an interactive workshop for school students at T.Nagar on October 22 on the topic ‘Cracker related eye injuries: prevention, protection and first aid.'

Former Judge, Madras High Court, T.N. Vallinayagam, presided.

As many as 110 students representing 15 schools participated in the workshop and interacted with ophthalmologists from the host hospital. All participating students were given certificates of appreciation. Pamphlets were given to them to spread awareness about celebrating injury-free Deepavali.

Ophthalmic surgeon, Dr. R. Praveen Krishna, addressed students about the serious eye injuries that may cause loss of vision and asked them to follow certain safety measures to prevent injuries to body, especially to the eyes.

Ophthalmic surgeon, Dr. Vasumathy Vedantham, said that the incidence of fireworks-related injuries during Deepavali is increasing each year.

The hands (40 per cent), eyes (20 per cent), and head and face (20 per cent) are the body areas most often involved. Sparklers cause the greatest number of injuries followed by firecrackers and rockets. Unfortunately, bystanders are more often injured by fireworks than operators themselves.

Contusions, lacerations, chemical injuries and foreign bodies are the most common injuries to eyes from fireworks, with approximately one-third of the injuries resulting in permanent blindness. Parents, community leaders and children should be educated on the hazards of fireworks and prevention as well as the first aid treatment of injuries, especially those involving the eyes.

Points to consider:

Timely intervention could result in preservation of vision. Wear eye protection such as plain glasses (with no power) that cover the eyes up to the eyebrows while bursting crackers or watching fireworks. Stock a first aid kit with a rigid eye shield and antibiotic eye drops before an eye injury happens. Always keep an adult by the side to supervise the use of all fireworks. Check the area before igniting fireworks to be sure all flammable and combustible materials is removed. Have a bucket of water at hand to extinguish an incipient fire. Follow all safety precautions issued with the fireworks. Use an agarbathi to ignite the fireworks. It burns without an open flame and provides a greater, safer distance between your hand and the fireworks. Open flames from lighters and matches can cause additional fire hazards. Do not assume that any eye injury is harmless. When in doubt, see an eye doctor immediately.

Chemical burns to the eye

In all cases of eye contact with chemicals: Wash your hands properly before handling the patient's eye. Open the affected eyelids gently with your fingers. Check if the eyeballs are intact or if there is a perforating injury with collapse of eyeballs. If the eyeball is intact, flush the eye gently with running, cool water to help clean and cool the eye and prevent further chemical reaction. Hold the eye under a shower, or pour water into the eye using a clean container. Keep the eye open, as wide as possible, while flushing. Continue flushing for at least 15 minutes. Do not use an eyecup. If the affected person is a contact lens wearer, the lens needs to be removed immediately, since the lenses may hold the chemicals against the cornea compounding the pain and damage. If it is difficult to remove the lens or the attendant is scared to remove the lens, he/she can even begin flushing over the lens immediately, which may wash away the lens. Apply a shield to the eye. Do not bandage the eye. Seek immediate medical treatment after flushing.

In case of any injury:

Do not rub the eye. Rubbing the eye may increase bleeding or make the injury worse. Do not attempt to remove a surface object from any part of the eye other than the white part or the eyelids. Do not try to remove the object if it is embedded in the cornea or if there is bleeding. If the piece of specs is visible in the white portion of the eye, ask the person to look up. Gently hold the eyelids apart and try to remove the object, with the corner of a clean, moistened cloth.

If this does not rid the eye of the object, hold the eyelids apart and flush the eye gently with clean water. Else, try lifting the upper eyelid outward and down over the lower lid. If the spec does not come out, keep the eye closed, bandage it lightly, and see an ophthalmologist.

As a general rule, in cases of severe pain, reduced vision, or discoloration (black eye), following cracker injury, seek emergency medical care. Any of these symptoms could mean internal eye damage and might need emergency intervention for preservation of vision.

T. Madhavan

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