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Chemical in Saffron Tilak On Forehead Can Cause Damage to Eye

Saffron-colored or Vermilion tilak (Tika) is applied on the forehead by many Hindus daily. Most the vermilion color available in market contains toxic elements including high level of lead and various other chemicals. Constant use of such chemical colors can cause chemical conjunctivitis.
DNA reports 
Doctors said there is lack of awareness among people about the dangers of applying too much vermillion. “Some people apply it from the nose to the end of the forehead. However, the saffron-coloured vermillion can cause damage to the eyes, especially to those who apply it regularly,” said Dr Ragini Parekh, head of ophthalmology department at JJ hospital. 
She said the vermillion at times contains toxic elements and those enter the eyes when one washes the face. It can lead to problems such as chemical conjunctivitis. “We see more women patients than men with this problem,” Dr Parekh said. 
Dr TP Lahane, senior ophthalmologist and dean of Sir JJ group of hospitals, said the problem was common among rural patients earlier, but now they see an increasing number of patients from the city. “Treatment is available, but people should be aware of the dangers. Some of the vermillion available in the market contains high level of lead. It can lead to serious problems if it enters the eyes. At times, it is so thick that the colour stays on the person’s forehead even after washing the face several times. This is common during festivals,” he said. 
“Not only chemical conjunctivitis, but people also suffer from blepharitis or chronic inflammation of the eyelids. Most people use local drops to treat the problem, but it can damage the eyes. Chemists may give steroids which are harmful,” said Dr Pritam Samant, consultant ophthalmologist at Hinduja hospital.