A Case of Aquarium Coral Conjunctivitis

Title A Case of Aquarium Coral Conjunctivitis
Author, Co-Author Jeremy Anderson, Summer Anderson
Topic Cornea/anterior segment/external/dry eye
Program Number
Ballroom A-B
Private Practice
Abstract Introduction: Palytoxin (PTX) is a deadly marine toxin produced by zoanthids, a fast growing coral popular among marine aquarists. There are many reports in the literature of adverse physical effects related to exposure to PTX; most references are dermatological and/or respiratory in nature. Few scientific case reports exist related to ocular exposure.

Case Report: A 21 year old male contacted our after-hours service with complaints of pain in his left eye for the past 48 hours. He said that he was splashed in that eye with liquid while cutting coral for his aquarium. He believed that the liquid may contain PTX. He also reported having irrigated his eye copiously following the exposure. His entering acuity was 20/20 in that eye and slit lamp exam revealed 2+ bulbar conjunctival injection and 2+ inferior palpebral conjunctival follicles in the left eye only. The remainder of the examination was unremarkable. He was prescribed Lotemax Gel bid and preservative free artificial tears prn for comfort. He had a comprehensive eye exam scheduled for 10 days later and was instructed to return to clinic sooner if his symptoms persisted or worsened. When he returned for follow-up his conjunctivitis had completely resolved.

Conclusion: Although rare, PTX exposure is a very real and potential danger existing among patients who are marine aquarium enthusiasts. Ocular exposure to PTX can present as a mild follicular conjunctivitis, but may also involve the cornea causing potentially sight threatening inflammation. This case underlines the importance of a thorough case history and working knowledge of PTX as well as available treatment options.
Affiliation of Co-Authors Anderson Eye Care, PLLC