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J Med Case Rep. 2009 Nov 10;3:115. doi: 10.1186/1752-1947-3-115.

Exposure to Euphorbia lathyris latex resulting in alkaline chemical injury: a case report.

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Department of Ophthalmology, Mid Essex NHS Trust, Court Road, Chelmsford, Essex CM1 7ET, UK.



We report the case of a patient with extreme pain following accidental exposure to the latex of Euphorbia lathyris.


A 76-year-old Caucasian woman attended the ophthalmology department with acute severe bilateral eye pain. This occurred immediately after having pulled a weed out of her garden with her bare hands. She recalled having subsequently rubbed her eyes. The offending plant, was brought into hospital and was identified as the Caper Spurge (Euphorbia lathyris). Her ocular pH was alkaline (pH 9). After copious irrigation, the pH normalised. She was treated with topical steroids, cycloplegics, lubricants and opioid oral analgesia. Three days later, she was symptom-free and her vision had returned to normal.


Exposure to Caper spurge latex is a rare cause of keratoconjunctivitis. It can, however, potentially lead to corneal ulceration, anterior uveitis and rarely blindness. Treatment remains largely empirical. Exposure to the milky latex can result in extreme pain requiring prompt treatment. The use of goggles and gloves is recommended when handling this plant.

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