Tue, Jul 16, 2013 - Page 5 News List

Doctor warns on dangers posed by flying bugs

By Lin Hsiang-mei and Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

After several recent cases of insects flying into people’s eyes, a doctor is advising the public to cover their faces with visors, or wear helmets with face shields, when riding motorcycles or bicycles, to prevent this from happening.

As summer is an active time for insects, ophthalmologists are reporting five to six times more cases of having to remove bugs from people’s eyes in the summertime compared with the winter months.

Chang Yen-jui (張延瑞), head of ophthalmology at Taipei City Hospital’s Yang Ming Branch, said he had dealt with three such cases in the past week.

One of those was the case of an elderly man who was exercising in his neighborhood park in the morning, Chang said.

Although the man realized something had flown into his left eye, he initially thought it was not a big deal. However, as his eye started to redden and swell, blurring his vision and causing it to weep, the man sought treatment at the hospital.

During his examination, Chang found a dead fruit fly stuck to the outside of the patient’s left eyeball, with its legs hooked tightly onto the lining of the inside of the eyelid.

While trying to remove the fly, Chang said he had to use force to overcome the resistance of the fly’s grip, but was finally able to free it.

“Later it was identified as a female fruit fly and it was lucky that it did not lay eggs in the eye, because that would be very difficult to treat. As flies are swarming in bacteria we treated the patient’s eye with antibiotics after removing the insect,” Chang said.

Chang reminded the public to be on their guard during summer camps that are held outdoors for children to experience nature.

“Children may encounter caterpillars, and touch them. However, caterpillars’ bristles are still active even after being detached from the insect’s body, so if kids do not wash their hands after having contact with caterpillars and rub their eyes with their fingers, the bristles can enter the eye,” Chang said.

If that happens, the bristles may get into the cornea, or even into the iris, or the eye’s ciliary muscle, or possibly into deeper parts of the eye, “which may lead to ocular inflammation, and in serious circumstances may result in total loss of vision,” Chang added.

While some people use eyewash solutions to flush out foreign objects from the eyes, “the effect of eyewash solution is about the same as the eye’s own tears. If tears cannot flush out the foreign object, then it is advisable to seek professional medical treatment,” Chang said.

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