A woman from Oregon has become the first person in the world to have had an eye infestation with worms.
The worm species is known primarily for infecting only cattle but in August 2016 Abby Beckley felt something move under her eyelid.
She was on a fishing boat in Alaska when she felt the twinge in her eye, which she thought was simply a stray eyelash, but she discovered inflamed skin and a wriggling worm.
Abby pulled the nearly half-inch worm out of her eye ‘and then it died within about five seconds’.
In total, Abby pulled out 14 worms from her eye over the course of 20 days.
Abby suffered for five days before her ship returned to port. Doctors were absolutely stunned at the discovery and by this point Abby had pulled four more worms from her eye, but they still had no idea what the parasites were.
Abby was eventually transferred to an eye specialist in Portland, who referred some samples to the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, who identified the worm from a 1928 book on the creatures.
The parasites have never before been seen in the human eye and are usually seen in the eyes of cattle. The worm is spread by face flies – the flies you see hovering around the eyes of farm animals – which feed off eye lubrication of the animals.
Abby told CNN:
My left eye just got really irritated and red and my eyelid was droopy. I was getting migraines too and I was like, ‘What is going on?’
I pulled down the bottom of my eye and noticed that my skin looked weird there. So I put my fingers in with a sort of a plucking motion and a worm came out!
I was just in shock. I ran into my crewmate Allison’s room and I said, ‘I need you to see this! I just pulled a worm out of my eye!’
At first, doctors were very skeptical about Abby’s claims of having worms in her eye because, why wouldn’t they be?
Abby had a number of doctors staring in her eye waiting for the worms to come out and within half an hour, the worms made an appearance.
I just kept pulling the worms out of my eye at home but when I went to the office, they would flush and nothing would come out.
They were trying to figure out what to do because there was no road map, no protocol for this.
I tried not to go to the darkest place, like, are these worms going to paralyse my face or infect my brain or impact my vision.
I was definitely in distress, for sure, but I also started making jokes, because I had to, to deal with it. It’s so gross to think about, but it was happening to me.
The doctors didn’t know quite how to treat the condition and they were worried a dead worm could stay in her eye and cause scarring.
So what was her option? To keep plucking them out until the last worm was gone.
Since the ordeal her eyesight has been good and there’ve been no complications.
Abby has spoken out about her experience so if this happens to anyone else, then there’ll at least be articles on the internet about it.
Part of the reason I’m speaking out is that I had wished I could find one article or source that would reassure me this happened to someone else and they are fine.
If this does happen again, I’m hoping my story will be out there for the next person to find.
Be right back, going to obsessively look at my eyes in the mirror to make sure there’s nothing in there.