Corneal Toxicity Following Exposure to Asclepias Tuberosa

Lauge Hjorth Mikkelsen1, Hassan Hamoudi2, Cigdem Altuntas Gül2, Steffen Heegaard1, 2, *
1 Department of Pathology, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen University Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark
2 Department of Ophthalmology, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen University Hospital, Glostrup, Denmark

© Mikkelsen et al.; Licensee Bentham Open

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 4.0 International Public License (CC BY-NC 4.0) (, which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this authors at the Department of Pathology, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen University Hospital, Frederik V’s vej 11 4. Sal, 2100 København Ø, Denmark; Tel: +45 35326071; E-mail:



To present a case of corneal toxicity following exposure to milky plant latex from Asclepias tuberosa.


A 70-year-old female presented with blurred vision and pain in her left eye after handling an Ascepias tuberosa. Clinical examination revealed a corneal stromal oedema with small epithelial defects. The corneal endothelium was intact and folds in Descemets membrane were observed. The oedema was treated with chloramphenicol, dexamethasone and scopolamine.


The corneal oedema had appeared after corneal exposure to the plant, Asclepias tuberosa, whose latex contains cardenolides that inhibit the Na+/ K+-ATPase in the corneal endothelium. The oedema resolved after 96 hours. After nine months the best corrected visual acuity was 20/20.


Corneal toxicity has previously been reported for plants of the Asclepias family. This is a rare case describing severe corneal toxicity caused by exposure to latex from Asclepias tuberosa. Handling of plants of the Asclepias family should be kept as a differential diagnosis in cases of acute corneal toxicity.

Keywords: Cornea, Asclepias, Corneal oedema, Corneal toxicity.