Along with the festive cheer that accompanies Deepavali every year, incidents of firecracker-related injuries take the sparkle out of the festival of lights.
Worried over the increasing number of eye injuries year after year, the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board and ophthalmologists, along with several non-governmental organisations and like-minded people, are propagating a firecracker-free Deepavali.
If the Pollution Control Board is calling upon people to light lamps instead of firecrackers, doctors are advising people to take all precautions and celebrate the festival of lights safely.
Degrees of severity
Fireworks-related injuries range in severity from burned fingers and lacerations to serious disability and permanent loss of vision. “If onlookers are the worst affected, children, who are left to themselves while bursting crackers, are the usual victims. Such injuries can be prevented and their impact reduced if addressed the right way and at the right time,” said K. Bhujang Shetty, Chairman and Managing Director, Narayana Nethralaya.
K.S. Sriprakash, Director of Minto Ophthalmic Hospital and Regional Institute of Ophthalmology, said people should avoid lighting heavy and loud crackers. “While small crackers cause common injuries such as mild burns in the skin, eyelashes or eyelids, heavy crackers such as rockets and atom bombs can cause serious damage to the cornea (front portion of our eye), bleeding inside the eye, tear and detachment of the retina and injury to the optic nerve leading to permanent loss of vision,” these doctors explained.
Paediatric Ophthalmologist Arun Samprathi said children should never be left unattended while bursting crackers. “Most of the victims last year were boys aged between 8 and 16 years. Lack of parental supervision and the practice of bursting crackers on roads without care are the main reasons for this,” he said.
Advising precautions, G. Venkatasubramaniam of Rangalakshmi Nethralaya and Balakrishna Shetty of Devi Eye Hospitals said a safe distance should be maintained while igniting crackers. It is better to wear tight-fitting cotton clothes and protective glasses, the doctors added.