Keeping exotic pets can lead to dangerous situations. We describe an ophthalmological injury caused by Palythoa, an anemone that produces palytoxin when irritated. Palytoxin is one of the most poisonous marine toxins ever described.
This case concerns a healthy, 44-year-old man who had rubbed his eyes after setting up a tropical aquarium, which contained sea-anemones among other species. This resulted in bilateral corneal melting, or keratolysis. The injury turned out to be caused by palytoxin. As a consequence, this patient was permanently visually impaired.
The anemone described in this case ( Palythoa sp) can easily be purchased online with no warnings whatsoever. When working with an aquarium, it is important to know about the species it contains and to wear protective clothing if necessary.
Conflict of interest and financial support: none declared.