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Eye injuries make it a dark Deepavali for many

Staff Reporter
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Many victims are mere bystanders, doctors express concern

APPLE OF THEIR EYE: Patients and their caregivers at the Minto Ophthalmic Hospital on Thursday. — PHOTO: V. SREENIVASA MURTHY
APPLE OF THEIR EYE: Patients and their caregivers at the Minto Ophthalmic Hospital on Thursday. — PHOTO: V. SREENIVASA MURTHY

As he lovingly watched his son set fire to an ‘atom bomb', Ramachandra of Yelahanka could not have anticipated this Deepavali would leave its mark as one of the darkest days of his life.

Doctors at Narayana Nethralaya, where he has undergone a surgery, said the 36-year-old would lose his left eye.

“He went near the firecracker when it did not burn for some time. It exploded, rupturing his eye globe,” said K. Bhujang Shetty, Chairman and Managing Director, Narayana Nethralaya.

Surgery

Mr. Ramachandra's case is one of the 39 the hospital has received in the last two days. Akul Bhatnagar (8) from R.T. Nagar and Sakshi (7) from Sarjapura, who suffered corneal damage watching others burst crackers, also underwent surgery, which doctors hope will heal the injury.

At Sankara Eye Hospital, a senior citizen — a mere bystander — dislocated his left eye lens when a cracker fragment lodged in it. Here also, doctors are hopeful.

Nearly 22 people, most of whom suffered minor corneal abrasions and burns on the eyelid watching others burst crackers, were treated at the State-run Minto Ophthalmic Hospital in the last two days.

“We have seen five serious cases — all children — of which 16-year-old Deepak and 13-year-old Vikram have undergone surgery. It is unfortunate that most victims are onlookers,” said Medical Superintendent Shiva Prasad Reddy.

That apart, nearly 40 cases of minor corneal abrasions and burns on the eyelid, which entail no permanent damage, were reported from other hospitals. Ten of these were treated as out-patients at the Padma Bhushan Dr. M.C. Modi Charitable Eye Hospital.

Year after year

Ophthalmologists expressed concern over the rise in eye injuries during Deepavali despite several awareness campaigns. “Although the State Government had planned to ban bursting of firecrackers on the road and in residential areas two years ago, nothing concrete has happened,” said Dr. Bhujang Shetty.

A committee led by Law Minister S. Suresh Kumar had discussed with the Departments of Home, Law, Fire and Emergency Services and Karnataka State Pollution Control Board and Minto Ophthalmic Hospital banning certain varieties of firecrackers. But nothing came of it, he added.

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