Got a Pet Tarantula? Better Protect Your Eyes

LONDON – Here’s some advice stemming from the unusual case of a man who had spider hairs stuck in his cornea: Be sure to cover your eyes when hanging around with your pet tarantula.

Ophthalmologists at St. James‘s University Hospital in Leeds, England, used high magnification lenses to find out what made the man’s eye red, watery and light-sensitive, according to a study reported in The Lancet medical journal on Thursday.

They discovered hair-like projections stuck in the man’s cornea.

It was a light bulb moment for the patient, who remembered that three weeks earlier he had been cleaning a stubborn stain on the glass tank of his pet, a Chilean Rose tarantula.

“He sensed movement in the terrarium. He turned his head and found that the tarantula, which was in close proximity, had released ‘a mist of hairs’ which hit his eyes and face,” the doctors wrote.

They said the man’s condition was rare.

The authors noted that the Chilean Rose tarantula releases the barbed hair on the back of its body to defend against predators.

“We suggest that tarantula keepers be advised to routinely wear eye protection when handling these animals,” the doctors said.

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