Stubble Burning (Burning Praali): Its Impact on Eye Health and How to Prevent It

Stubble burning, also known as Burning Praali, is a common farming practice with serious effects on both the environment and human health, especially our eyes. Here’s how it affects eye health, the symptoms to watch for, and ways to protect your eyes.

What is Stubble Burning?

Stubble burning involves setting fire to leftover straw after harvesting crops like paddy and wheat to quickly clear fields for the next planting season. This method, though fast and cheap, releases smoke and pollutants that can harm eye health.

Symptoms of Eye Issues Caused by Stubble Burning

Exposure to smoke and pollutants from stubble burning can lead to several eye problems. If you experience any of these symptoms, visit an eye healthcare provider:

  • Eye Irritation: Redness, inflammation, and a burning sensation.
  • Watery Eyes: Increased tear production causing discomfort and blurred vision.
  • Dry Eyes: Itching and a gritty feeling, worsening with prolonged exposure.
  • Allergic Reactions: Itching, swelling, redness, and allergic conjunctivitis.
  • Blurred Vision: Temporary or intermittent blurring affecting daily activities.
  • Increased Sensitivity to Light: Discomfort in bright conditions (photophobia).

Effects of Stubble Burning on Eye Health

Pollutants from stubble burning, like particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10), carbon monoxide, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), can cause:

  • Conjunctivitis: Inflammation with redness, itching, and discharge.
  • Worsening of Pre-existing Conditions: Aggravation of dry eye syndrome, allergic conjunctivitis, or blepharitis.
  • Corneal Damage: Harm to the cornea, potentially leading to ulcers or infections.
  • Chronic Eye Problems: Long-term issues affecting vision quality over time.

Prevention and Mitigation Strategies: To protect your eyes from stubble burning, wear protective eyewear like sunglasses or safety glasses, stay indoors during peak burning periods with windows closed, and use artificial tears to keep your eyes moist and clear of irritants. Additionally, promote eco-friendly methods like the Happy Seeder and educate farmers and the public about the health risks of stubble burning and the benefits of sustainable alternatives.

Stubble burning poses a significant threat to eye health, causing symptoms from mild irritation to severe conditions. By adopting preventive measures and promoting sustainable agricultural practices, we can protect our eyes from these harmful effects. If you experience any symptoms from exposure, visit an eye healthcare provider immediately.

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