Pine Processionary; eye reactions

Medical content revised by - Last revision 01/06/2017
Pine Processionary; eye reactions

In Spring the risk of suffering allergies increases, as the plant and animal allergens that cause them appear. The Pine Processionary (Thaumetopoea pityocampa) is a type of moth that invades particular tree species, especially pines. This year its arrival has come early thanks to a mild and dry winter.

RISKS

The caterpillars of the Pine Processionary can be seen moving together in long head-to-tail rows. Curiosity often draws young children to these rows of caterpillars, but these creatures pose a risk to their eyes, as well as to those of adults and pets. The caterpillar is covered in fine hairs which we can come into contact with when they become loose and float through the air. These hairs can cause skin, nose and eye irritations.

EYE IRRITATION

The hairs can become embeded in the cornea, the transparent exterior layer of the eye, or in the  conjunctiva (the membrane that covers the eye and lines the eyelids). This can cause a number of reactions ranging from mild inflammation to anaphylactic shock (a very serious allergic reaction).

If we come into direct contact with the caterpillar, its hairs can become embedded in the skin releasing a toxin that can cause histamine (the body’s natural defence against allergens) to be produced in some people.

In around 10% of cases, these skin reactions are accompanied by eye symptoms, although some take longer to manifest than others. These symptoms are often difficult to diagnose correctly.

Early eye symptoms can include:

  • dryness and itchiness
  • bloodshot eyes
  • swelling of the conjunctiva and the eyelids
  • inflammation that gets worse in the days following exposure
  • sensitivity to light
  • watery eyes
  • yellowish nodules on the lining of the eye, which form around the embedded caterpillar hair (oftalmia nudosa).

Eye conditions and symptoms that develop later are the consequence of the hairs penetrating deeper into the eyeball. When these hairs migrate to internal eye structures, they can form nodules in the iris (the coloured part of the eye), damage the sclera (white of the eye), or lead to glaucoma, uveitis, cataract and panophthalmitis (an infection covering all parts of the eye).

TREATMENT

Treatment will depend on the patient’s symptoms and how seriously they have been affected. Treatment ranges from use of antihistamines and steroid hormones to treat the reaction, to cleaning the infected and swollen eyelids. Where the exposure has led to more serious eye conditions, these will have to be treated separately.

It is advisable to avoid contact with the Pine Processionary wherever possible (including its nests and the trees that host it) to avoid the caterpillar hairs from entering your eyes.

Post your comment

In accordance with the provisions of the General Data Protection Regulation (REGULATION (EU) 2016/679), the following information about the processing of personal data is disclosed to you.

Responsible: Institut Català de la Retina, S.L., Institut Català de Cirurgia refractiva, S.L. (from now on ICR)

Representative of Data Protection Contact: C/Pau Alcover nº 67 08017 Barcelona – rgpd@icrcat.com

Aim: The purpose of the treatment is to manage the information you provide us and after having your consent, publish the testimonial on our website.

Legitimization: The legal basis for the present treatment is the request made by you and having your consent.

Recipients: The recipients of the information are the departments and delegations in which ICR is organized, in part or in its entirety. It will not be communicated to third parties.

Rights: At any time, you can exercise your rights of access, rectification, deletion, opposition, limitation of treatment and / or portability of data by writing to the RPD Representative of Data Protection at the address provided in contact. You can also revoke consents to other treatments. You can also request more information from the RPD about the treatments performed.
In the event that you consider that your rights have been violated, you can submit a claim to the competent Data Protection Control Authority.

For all purposes, the user accepts that the opinion expressed will be exclusively his /her responsibility. The user assumes under his / her exclusive responsibility the damages or harms that may derive from it.
ICR will not be responsible for the accuracy, quality, reliability, correctness, morality and legality of the data, information or opinions published by users.
ICR reserves the right not to publish all opinions of users.
The user is solely responsible of his /her username. ICR will not be responsible for the illegal use or for illicit purposes that other users can make of this user name.

Preservation: The collected data will be kept during the time required for the requested management, for at most 30 days.

ICR Ganduxer Headquarters

c/Ganduxer,117
08022 Barcelona

ICR Pau Alcover

C. Pau Alcover 67
08017 Barcelona

ICR Terrassa

C. del Nord, 77
08221 Terrassa

Clínica Bonanova Surgical Center

Passeig Bonanova, 22
08022 Barcelona

Clinica Bonanova Tests and Treatments

c/ Mandri, 63
08022 Barcelona

ICR Service at Clínica Ntra. Sra. del Remei

c/ de l'Escorial,148
08024 Barcelona
This website uses cookies in order to collect statistical information regarding navigation. If you keep on surfing this website, it shall be deemed to have acknowledged its use. More information.