A TINY insect has been blamed for a surge in cases of mysterious 'Christmas eye'.

The condition alters the colour of your pupil and is caused by the Orthoperus beetle.


Once it gets into your eye, the tiny insect releases a blistering agent.

This is extremely painful and can break the skin of the cornea, which is the transparent part of the eye that covers the iris and the pupil and allows light to enter the inside.

The term 'Christmas eye', is thought to have been coined by medics in Australia in the 1970s.

It's named after the seasonal celebration as it often presents in parts of Australia between November and January, a study published in the Medical Journal of Australia states.

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It's native to the country and the critters are classed as vesicating beetles, which means they are associated with blisters.

Experts have now warned that there has been a 'huge spike' with the majority of cases being reported in northeastern Victoria and southern New South Wales.

One 13-year-old said she is still suffering with eye issues after the insect got into her eye during a camping trip. 

Annabelle Donnelly said she thought she would have realised that a beetle had been in her eye after the doctor told her that her symptoms were down to the critter.

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"I thought I was going to lose my eye," she told 7NEWS.

The youngster had been on a camping trip 250km from Melbourne when the insect struck.

Her mum Sarah Jane Donnelly said at the time, she had wished there was a way she could take the pain away for her daughter.

"90 per cent of the membrane was burnt off … I kept thinking this is fixable, surely there is a way you can take the pain away," she said.

Optometrist Dr Rob Holloway, from Holloway Vision in Wangaratta said everybody that presents symptoms has had a history of being outside, they’ve been gardening, they’ve been slashing grass or going to football training.

"There seems to have been a huge spike," he added.

Most of the time those who have been unfortunate enough to have come into contact with the bug will be unaware of Christmas eye until they start to feel pain.

This irritation comes when the beetles are disturbed or crushed.

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Chemicals are released from the insect which then gets into the eye.

Dr Holloway said it's advisable to wear glasses when you're outside until the end of March in order to minimise your risk of the condition.

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