Indian Journal of Ophthalmology

: 1956  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 43--44

Hair as foreign bodies in the conjunctiva

SM Sathe 
 King Edward Memorial Hospital, Parel, Bombay, India

Correspondence Address:
S M Sathe
King Edward Memorial Hospital, Parel, Bombay

How to cite this article:
Sathe S M. Hair as foreign bodies in the conjunctiva.Indian J Ophthalmol 1956;4:43-44

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Sathe S M. Hair as foreign bodies in the conjunctiva. Indian J Ophthalmol [serial online] 1956 [cited 2021 Apr 15 ];4:43-44
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Full Text

Cases of damage to eyes as result of penetration by hairs are well known, but are of considerable rarity.

A number of cases of hairs of plants and of certain insects notably caterpillars. burrowing into the tissues of the conjunctiva and setting up a condition resembling ophthalmia nodosa or subacute trachoma or tuberculous conjunctivitis are recorded.

Markus (1899) and Schmidt-Rimpler (1899), as mentioned by Duke Elder des­cribed conjunctivitis resulting from the hairs from the tip of the hawthorn. The hairs were embedded in the follies covering the upper lid.

Hairs of certain insects enter the eye, the sharp ones penetrate the tissues and may migrate inwards producing in so doing a violent reaction-nodules in the con­junctiva which may appear in considerable numbers, (Wafenman 1890.) Caterpillar hairs have a sharp apex and barbed edges, and the pathological changes produced are due in part to the mechanical effect, as well as by a substance secreted by the gland situated at the base of the hair.

Anatomically, the palpebral conjunctiva is rarely attacked.

 Case Report

The following case which attended the King Edward Memorial Hospital, Bombay on 14-5-56 is of considerable interest because hair, probably human are found to have penetrated into the upper palpebral conjunctiva. The human hair is not barbed and is not credited with the property of migration. A male aged 40 years, complained of photophobia, lacrimation and pain in the right eye for the last 2 months. He was a farmer by profession coming from a village near Satara. No history of contact with domestic animals or any injury could be elicited. With some difficulty we could get a history of a hair-cut previous to the ocular condition.

Clinical examination of the right eye revealed a narrow palpebral fissure the palpebral conjunctiva was congested with follicle formation. The follicles at first sight appeared to be of tuberculous conjunctivitis. There was congestion of the conjunctival and ciliary vessels. Cornea appeared hazy, part of it was staining with fluorescein. Anterior chamber, iris and pupil appeared normal. Vision in right eye was reduced to finger counting at one meter. The left eye was normal with a visual acuity of 6/6.

Slit Lamp examination of the right upper everted lid showed raised areas (follicles) eight in number distributed as shown in the diagram. The centre of each area was marked by a tiny black spot which looked like the end of a hair.

After pulling out one of the hairs which was lying embedded in the follicle, it was examined under a microscope. It did not appear to be barbed and it appeared to be a human hair. Next day the whole strip of tarsus was removed and preserved as a specimen. Since human hair can only be recognised with an ultra microscope, which we do not have in our institution, it could not be con­firmed unequivocally that it was nothing but human hair.

Within a week the patient's symptoms were much less and the vision was restored to 6/9.


A case of hair (probably human) migrating and lodging into the palpebral conjunctiva is described. At first sight it gave the impression of a follicular or tubercular conjunctivitis.[6]


1Duke-Elder, W. S. (1952). Text Book of Ophthalmology. Vol. 5, Henry Kimpton, London, p. 1718.
2Lawson (1917), Brit. J. O.. I, 310.
3Markus as quoted in 1.
4More, F. (1929), Brit. J. O.. 13, 57.
5Schmidt-Rimpler as quoted in 1.
6Wagenmann as quoted in 1.