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January 1966

Burdock Ophthalmia

Author Affiliations

From the Howe Laboratory of Ophthalmology, Harvard University Medical School. Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, 243 Charles St, Boston.

Arch Ophthalmol. 1966;75(1):16-20. doi:10.1001/archopht.1966.00970050018005

The common cocklebur carrying the seed mechanism of the burdock plant (Arctium minus) is well known to most persons (Fig 1C and ID). Due to a great number of hooklets on the outer shafts, the bur sticks tenaciously to hair and clothing. The plant is found in cities, in suburbs, and in rural areas of all parts of continental United States while similar or identical plants occur in Europe and many other parts of the world.

The burdock bristle may imbed in the conjunctiva, or rarely in the cornea, and evoke a characteristic clinical picture. Our experience and that of Havener; Falls; and McReynolds1 suggests that this burdock ophthalmia may be relatively frequent, and yet the diagnosis had been missed by one or more ophthalmologists in most cases by the time we have seen the patients. The purpose of this paper, therefore, is to present the typical entity as