#HealthyHoli: Tips to protect your eyes while playing Holi

Holi is one of the most colourful festivals celebrated in India and all over the world. The riot of colours seen in Holi looks absolutely amazing to one and all. But we must remember that these colours which give joy to many, bring horror to the lives of many others, each year. The eyes are particularly vulnerable to damage as almost always colour is applied to the face, starting from the eyes moving onto the cheeks

Tips to protect your eyes while playing Holi

Regrettably, most of the Holi colours sold these days contain harmful chemicals. In fact most are dyes meant for industrial use like dyeing textiles and are not meant to be used on humans. All these are toxic and can cause skin allergies to cancer, eye irritation to blindness, and much more.

The base in which these chemicals are mixed are highly toxic. Several powder or dry colours use a base of asbestos talc, chalk powder or silica. The shine in the colours is due to addition of powdered glass or mica. Many water colours have an alkaline base capable of causing severe injuries. If it enters the eyes, it can pose a great danger to the vision.

Dr Nikhil Nasta
Dr Nikhil Nasta

Here are a few tips to enjoy Holi and make it as much fun as you intend to:

  • Be sensitive to others wishes. Don’t forcefully apply colour on people.
  • Use natural colours rather than chemical or artificial ones.
  • Use powders rather than pastes.
  • Reds and pinks are less harmful than darker colours which are made from dyes.
  • If colour does get into the eyes, do not rub. Rinse the eyes well a couple of times with cold water.
  • If redness persists, consult an ophthalmologist.
  • When travelling, keep the windows closed as balloon hits can cause blunt injuries around or to the eyes.
  • Water balloons can me most dangerous and cause blunt trauma to the eye which may lead to bleeding in the eye, lens subluxation or dislocation, macular edema or retinal detachment.
  • This may lead to loss of vision or even loss of eye. These are all eye emergencies and need to be looked into immediately.
  • If you wear contact lenses, please remove them before you step out for the day.
  • If you do wish to wear lenses, it is best to use a daily disposable lens and discard it soon after playing Holi. Your contact lens specialist will be able to provide you lenses which you may use and discard.
  • If you wear glasses, please keep them at home lest they get damaged or broken.
  • Be careful while smearing the colours on their face of people wearing spectacles, and it’s better to ask them before hand, or else you could even hurt the person with his/her own spectacles. Especially be careful with kids.
  • Try to save yourself from all possible attacks on the face. In case your attempts fail, keep your eyes and lips tightly shut if you are attacked on your face.
  • Avoid running on jumping on wet floors, so that you don’t slip and injure yourself.
  • Avoid over indulgence in bhang, drinks or food, so that you don’t repent later. Bhang can lead to temporary or permanent blindness in rare cases.


Taking care of eyes on this day is a must, as it is the most sensitive area which is exposed directly. You may apply oil near eye and on your eye lashes to shed them quickly.

Follow these simple tips and share them with your friends and relatives so that you all can enjoy a safe Holi!

The author is a Consultant Cataract and Refractive Surgeon, iSight eyecare and surgery, Khar