Thursday, June 12, 2008

Bee Sting to the Eye

I received a painful bee sting to the lower eyelid. I was creating a split from one of the thriving colonies when a guard bee flew up and landed underneath my glasses. Before I could remove my glasses the bee stung me right on the edge of my lower eyelid. I went inside and removed the stinger from the lower lid.

The pain of being stung in, on, or around the eye is incredible! The problem is that the bees venom contains a compound that helps to spread the toxins into the surrounding tissues. This means that the toxins move not only into the site of the sting, but they also quickly moved to my upper cheek, upper eyelid, and the eyeball itself. I started to worry that this could result in permanent loss of visual accuity. So I began to do a little research.

I found that there are very few documented cases of permanent damage from a sting to the eye. In fact, some cases of damage to the optic nerve or retina have been reported, but most of these were caused by stings to the head rather than the eye itself.

So how do you treat a bee or wasp sting to the eye? The best recommendations are to try to reduce the swelling. This is usually accomplished by the administration of an antihistamine or a non-steroidal anti-inflamitory. Remove the sting if it is safe to do so. If the sting becomes embedded in the eye it recommended that it be left alone to avoid damaging the structure of the eye itself.

So here is what my experience was like. Shortly after the sting occurred my eyes became extremely bloodshot. The affected eye began to tear heavily accompanied by heavy secretion of mucosa from the lacrimal gland. I did not have any medications available, so I placed an ice pack on the eye to help relieve the pain. I do not know if this is advisable, but it did help relieve the pain in my case. I laid down and after about an hour the heavy tearing and vasodialation of the eyes had subsided. The next morning I was unable to open the affected eye due to heavy mucous on the eyelids. I had to use a washcloth with hot water to dampen the eyelashes and wipe away the dried mucous. I have not had any other complications other than the general discomfort caused by the swelling.

Here is a link to the article that I found regarding bee and wasp stings of the eye.

http://homepage.mac.com/WebObjects/FileSharing.woa/wa/brjopthal00238-0049.pdf.pdf-zip.zip?a=downloadFile&user=dansklabs&path=.Public/brjopthal00238-0049.pdf

The document is in adobe acrobat (.pdf) format so you will need the acrobat reader. If you do not have adobe acrobat you can download it for free from here:

http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html

Please share your experiences! You can post a description of your most painful bee sting in the comments section below. If you have any tips for treating bee stings please post them! Best Regards.

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