Abby Beckley, 26, had battled an irritated eye for about a week when she suddenly felt something in her eye. Upon investigation, she found out what it was — a worm. This discovery would eventually lead to 14 tiny worms in all squirming around in her left eye.
Beckley said she first thought it might be a piece of fuzz that she pulled from her eye, but when she saw it on the tip of her finger there was no mistaking it — it was a moving worm. It is believed that Beckley has the first documented case of this type of worm found in the eye of a human, according to Fox News.
She was diagnosed with Thelazia gulosa, which is a type of eye worm found in the eyes of cattle in northern parts of the U.S. and in the southern areas of Canada. The disease is spread by “face flies” that land on the face of the cattle and feed on the lubrication of the eyeball or tears.
This happened back in August, but a report on this case was recently published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, bringing public attention to this case.
Beckley had spent some time in a coastal farming area in Oregon, which is called Gold Beach. She was there horseback riding and fishing, so she had spent a good deal of time outdoors. Then she battled that eye infection for about a week before she pulled out the first worm.
She said that when she felt something in her eye, she pulled back the lid and saw what she thought was a piece of fuzz in the “bottom little crevice” of her eye. So she used a “picking motion” to remove it from her eye, and she pulled it out once she felt it between her fingers. It wasn’t fuzz — it was moving.
Dr. Erin Bonura, who is an assistant medicine at the Oregon Health & Science University, told Fox News that she asked Beckley to have the worms removed by pulling them out of her eye. She said doctors would have given her medication so the worms would die in her eye, but they would not be removed.
All 14 translucent worms, which were no longer than a half-inch, were pulled from Beckley’s eye. She recovered from that eye infection after the worms were removed.
Beckley told Fox News, “When I was going through it, it was like, there were parts of it that were so strangely comical. But then there were parts of it that just felt like I was living in a nightmare.”
According to the lead author of the article in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, they have seen two types of Thelazia eye worms in people before, but “none like what Beckley experienced.” Different kinds of flies spread eye worms in animals, including pets like cats and dogs.