A 19-year-old man received some good news and some bad news from his doctor. The good news: The tumor on his eye is benign. The bad news: He has a hairy eyeball.
According to My Health News Daily, the tumor on the man’s eye is called a limbal dermoid. It’s benign and has been present since his birth. The tumor has been growing, however, and is now about 5 mm in diameter. The tumor has also sprouted a few black hairs.
[If eyeballs freak you out, you may want to stop reading now. A photo of the hairy eyeball appears at the bottom of this article.]
Researchers from Tabriz University of Medical Sciences in Iran said that the tumor is very rare and that eye doctors may only see one or two cases a year.
Dr. Mark Fromer, the director of Fromer Eye Centers in New York City, has seen a few cases during his career. Fromer says that the rare tumors do not typically cause severe vision problems. They may blur vision, but, since they usually grow on the side of the eyeball and not over the center cornea, people living with the tumor may still have relatively good vision.
Fromer said that the tumor can be removed with surgery but that the procedure does not improve a person’s vision. The 19-year-old Iranian man chose to have his tumor removed.
The researchers write:
“The appearance of the mass, with hairs present, was indicative of limbal dermoid. The lesion was excised, and lamellar keratoplasty was performed for cosmetic reasons. Pathological findings confirmed the diagnosis of limbal dermoid. As expected, there was little improvement in visual acuity after surgery because of the amblyopia and induced astigmatism.”
Fromer said that because surgery rarely improves vision many people decide that surgery is not worth it. The eye doctor said that he currently has a female patient who has chosen to keep her hairy eyeball instead of having surgery.
Fromer told Yahoo News: “It hasn’t grown or changed and it doesn’t physically bother her.”
Here’s a photo from the New England Journal of Medicine.