Grim photos reveal how horror bee sting left barbed stinger lodged in man’s eyeball for days

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A MAN was left with a barbed stinger lodged in his eyeball after being stung by a bee.

The tiny spike was found to be stabbing the 55-year-old’s cornea, causing vessels to burst.

The New England Journal of Medicine

A man went to hospital after getting stung by a bee in the eye[/caption]

The New England Journal of Medicine

Medics removed a barbed stinger, which had become lodged in his eyeball[/caption]

The New England Journal of Medicine

The stinger remnant at 100 times magnification[/caption]

The horrifying discovery was made after he visited his local ophthalmology clinic with worsening vision and pain in his right eye.

He had been stung two days earlier while walking near a bee hive and had gone to A&E.

The man, who did not work with bees, had the stinger removed, but remnants of the barb remained.

Some 48 hours later, he went back to hospital complaining that he couldn’t see properly and his eye hurt.

Tests revealed vision in his right eye was limited to simply counting his fingers, and the intraocular pressure was 16mmHg.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), a normal range is between 10 and 20.

An examination under a specialised microscope with a bright light then discovered the tiny object embedded in the tissue between the iris and the sclera, or the white of the eye.

The patient was found to be suffering from conjunctival injection – inflammation and dilation of blood vessels that supply the thin, clear membrane.

He also had a swollen cornea, known as inferior corneal edema, and hyphema, or bleeding inside the eye.

Jeweller’s forceps were used to remove the stinger remnant and he was prescribed topical antibacterial and steroidal eye drops.

At a follow-up appointment after five months, the visual acuity in his right eye had improved to 20/25.

Talia Shoshany and Zeba Syed, ophthalmologists from Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, wrote in The New England Journal of Medicine: “Ocular bee stings warrant referral to an ophthalmologist owing to the severe inflammation that may result from the injury, as well as the possibility of a retained stinger in the eye.”


Bee and wasp stings to the eye are rare, but they do happen.

Usually, these can be treated with a simple cold compress, the AAO says.

However, if you get stung on the eyelid or cornea, you should seek urgent medical attention.

“The bee stinger contains toxins that can cause inflammation,” the AAO warns.

“Stingers are also sharp, with a saw-like structure, that makes it difficult to remove completely.”

Stingers are used to deliver venom.

In bees, they are barbed, meaning they saw through tissue, and they pull free from the bee, whereas in wasps, they are straight and don’t come off.

The barb is part of what makes a bee sting painful, and why removing bee stingers takes a little effort.

Ivan Schwab, cornea specialist at the UC Davis Eye Center in Sacramento, California, said: “If you’re stung in the cornea please go to the emergency room immediately.”

In some people, stings can cause anaphylaxis – a severe and life-threatening allergic reaction.

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