Spate of eye injury cases; PM2.5 pollution up in Bengaluru

At least 45 people sustain eye injuries from crackers during Deepavali

Fireworks lit up the sky on Thursday and Friday as well as Saturday as people across Bengaluru celebrated Deepavali. However, the celebrations brought their share of health concerns, ranging from breathlessness due to rising pollution levels in some neighbourhoods to injuries.

At least 45 people sustained eye injuries from crackers during the three-day festival. The maximum number of cases has been reported to Minto Ophthalmic Hospital, followed by Narayana Nethralaya. Patients included not just those lighting crackers but also bystanders.

A doctor checks the eyes of a boy who sustained firecracker injury, at Minto Ophthalmic Hospital in Bengaluru. 

According to information provided by Sujatha Rathod, director, Minto Ophthalmic Hospital, as many as 23 people with eye injuries were treated at the hospital over the past three days. Of these, three people had grievous injuries, while others had superficial injuries, she said. “While 20 cases had superficial injuries, they may have facial scars and can recover with medical intervention,” she said.

K. Bhujang Shetty, chairman and managing director of Narayana Nethralaya, said that of the 20 cases treated at the hospital, none was sight-threatening. As many as 12 patients were children, while 11 were onlookers. “This year, fortunately, we are seeing much fewer cases than previous years. This can be attributed to better awareness and also the rain that played spoilsport,” he said.

Two cases were reported and treated at Agarwal Eye Hospital; both patients were children.

High pollution levels

People bursting crackers on the occasion of Deepavali in Bengaluru. | Photo Credit: Bhagya Prakash K.

Data from the National Air Quality Index showed that Bapujinagar recorded high levels of pollution at 115 AQI on November 5. The most prominent pollutant was PM2.5. Pollution levels nearly doubled when compared with 64 AQI recorded on November 3, when the prominent pollutant was carbon monoxide (CO). Similarly, Jayanagar 5th Block recorded an AQI of 99 on November 5 as against 70 AQI just two days prior to that. Here, too, the primary pollutant changed from CO to PM 2.5.

Residents in several parts of the city complained of breathlessness while others said they could see a “a low cloud of smog” in the evening.

“In some areas of Kasturinagar, more than the sound, the problem was the pungent smell of crackers that made breathing very difficult, resulting in headache and general discomfort. This, even after we had shut windows and doors. It took more than an hour for the air to clear,” said Praveen N. who lives on the ground floor.

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