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CLAO J. 2000 Apr;26(2):111-2.

Ophthalmia nodosa caused by casual handling of a tarantula.

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Wills Eye Hospital, Philadelphia, PA 19107, USA.



To present the diagnostic and therapeutic challenges of ophthalmia nodosa secondary to tarantula hairs.


We present a case of a 28-year-old male with a one-week history of skin rash followed by ocular irritation, and blurring of vision after handling a Chilean rose tarantula. A Medline-guided literature search was performed to review the current and historical knowledge of ophthalmia nodosa. The clinical presentation and therapeutic options in ophthalmia nodosa were reviewed.


Ophthalmia nodosa is a granulomatous, nodular reaction to vegetable or insect hairs including tarantula hairs. Tarantula hairs can cause inflammation in all levels of the eye, from conjunctiva to retina. Therapy includes surgical removal of offending hairs and medical management of inflammation.


Although tarantulas are considered harmless pets, ophthalmia nodosa is a potential danger when handling a tarantula. Furthermore the management of exposure to tarantula hairs can be difficult.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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