• How to Treat a Bee Sting Near the Eye

    Written By: Beatrice Shelton
    Reviewed By: Ivan R Schwab MD FACS
    Oct. 29, 2019

    Though rare, bee stings do happen near or in the eye. A sting near the eye can be treated with a simple, cold compress. But if you get stung on the eyelid or cornea, you should seek attention from an ophthalmologist.

    The bee stinger contains toxins that can cause inflammation. Stingers are also sharp, with a saw-like structure that makes it difficult to remove completely. In one case, a man came to his ophthalmologist about a month after being stung on the eyelid. He thought he got the stinger out, but one month later, what was left of the stinger burrowed further through the lid and began scratching the surface of his eye. The ophthalmologist removed the stinger. The patient made a full recovery after treatment with antibiotics and steroids.

    Farrah Balboul had a less dramatic encounter with a bee sting recently. She was walking her dog when she was stung near the eye.

    “It burned a lot. I reacted to remove the stinger,” Balboul said. “I rinsed my eye with cold water and saw my ophthalmologist the next day. I experienced blurry vision for a while, but it eventually went away. I was lucky – my vision went back to normal.”

    “If you’re stung in the fleshy part of the eye but not the cornea, in the short term, a cold compress and attention by an ophthalmologist is recommended,” said Ivan Schwab, MD, cornea specialist at the UC Davis Eye Center. “If you’re stung in the cornea please go to the emergency room immediately.”