Atypical Christmas Eye Disease: A Case Report and Literature Review

The Open Ophthalmology Journal 23 December 2021 CASE REPORT DOI: 10.2174/1874364102115010264



Christmas Eye Disease (CED), also known as the “Albury-Wodonga syndrome” or “Harvester's Keratitis”, is a seasonal acute corneal ulceration syndrome, which is geographically limited to Australia, specifically in the south-west region of New South Wales (NSW) and north-east region of Victoria. The mechanism of injury is unknown, but the secretions from native beetles of the genus Orthoperus have been implicated. There remains a dearth of literature on CED, particularly with atypical disease presentations. We present the first reported case of CED in the upper Blue Mountains Region, presenting atypically with mild pain and foreign body sensation. We also aim to explore the possible entomological precipitants of the disease.

Case Presentation:

A 77-year-old man with a 1-day history of a mildly painful red eye was found to have acute corneal ulceration. He experienced mild discomfort in his right eye while asleep and woke the following morning with persistent blur, foreign body sensation, and photophobia. He had no history of ocular trauma or chemical exposure. He reported going for daily bushwalks in the upper Blue Mountains region but did not recall any exposure to environmental or entomological precipitants.

Clinical Findings and Outcomes:

Slit-lamp examination revealed a substantial corneal epithelial loss in the right eye with fluorescein staining, revealing a characteristic ‘green splash’ over 90% of the cornea. Other clinical findings included marked corneal edema, moderate conjunctival injection, mild palpebral swelling, and mild papillae. No anterior uveitis was observed, and the posterior segment examination was normal. There was a considerable reduction in his right visual acuity from baseline. He was empirically treated with 1% tropicamide ocular drops, 1% chloramphenicol ointment, and lubricant ocular drops. The bacterial and viral conjunctival swabs were unremarkable. Clinical progression was self-limiting, and complete resolution of the ulcer was achieved after one month.


CED is a clinical diagnosis, and medical practitioners should be aware of atypical features, such as the absence of debilitating pain. Additionally, our case demonstrates that the geographic distribution of CED appears to be far more extensive than previously thought, thereby raising the possibility of disease manifestation in regions not commonly associated with it. Entomological precipitants of this condition remain circumstantial and warrant further validation.

Keywords: Christmas eye disease, Cornea, Corneal ulcer, Albury-wodonga syndrome, Harvester's keratitis, Entomological.
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