NCBI ROFL: Bat attack!: an unusual cause of keratouveitis.

By ncbi rofl | April 2, 2012 7:00 pm

“Eye injury from flying bats are extremely rare, as they have a special ultrasonic echolation system which they use instead of sight to guide their way. This complex system enables them to avoid any obstacles when gliding at high velocities, even in complete darkness. There has been one other report of corneal perforation from collision with a bat. Here we report a case of a bat attack with a corneal foreign body which was a part of the bat’s claw, resulting in localized keratitis and anterior uveitis, a finding which has not been previously described.

A 50-year-old Caucasian male presented with blurred vision and irritation of the right eye after being struck by a flying bat while walking under a tree in the evening. On examination, his visual acuity was 6/18, right eye and 6/6, left eye…. …The tip of a bat’s claw, which was very thin and sharp, was retrieved. Topical antibiotics and steroids were used for 1 week. Two weeks later, the visual acuity returned to 6/6, right eye, though a faint corneal scar remained in the visual axis.

Contrary to the belief that a bat can get caught in people’s hair, it is very rare for bats to fly into a person because of their unique and effective navigation system. However, accidents can occur where they are densely roosted such as in trees, marshes and slow-moving rivers, especially around dusk and dawn when they feed. There have been reports of corneal foreign bodies from living creatures such as tarantulas and caterpillar setae. Most required removal due to intraocular inflammation, but some authors suggest that corneal setae can be tolerated without need for surgical intervention. To the authors’ knowledge, there is no previously documented case of a corneal foreign body from a part of a bat’s body. We recommend removal of the foreign body as it can induce keratouveitis. Ophthalmologists, physicians and the general population should be aware of this rare complication from a bat attack.”

Photo: flickr/Jessicajil

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  • Kyle

    I work for an ophthalmologist…wonder if he read about this?


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NCBI ROFL is the brainchild of two Molecular and Cell Biology graduate students at UC Berkeley and features real research articles from the PubMed database (which is housed by the National Center for Biotechnology information, aka NCBI) that they find amusing (ROFL is a commonly-used internet acronym for "rolling on the floor, laughing"). Follow us on twitter: @ncbirofl


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