A 26-year-old Oregonian woman was horrified when she woke up one morning and noticed something moving in her bathroom mirror. When she looked closer she was absolutely distraught to see a translucent worm writhing across the jelly of her eye. She later discovered that there was more than just one worm, and that there was in fact a colony of them living in her eye.
This was the reality faced by a young outdoorswoman when she faced an infestation of thelazia gulosa, a parasitic worm that has never been seen in humans before.
For days she had experienced discomfort in her left eye, believing that a hair of piece of debris was causing her the irritation. However, once she realised that there was something swimming across her eyes that was a live she quickly rushed to the hospital. Doctors soon confirmed that the source of her discomfort was a colony of translucent worms that were living under her eyelid and feeding on her tears.
A CDC spokesman who authored a case report about the young woman, told reporters,
“A total of 14 worms were removed from her left eye over 20 days. They weren't able to remove them all at once. They had to remove them as they became present and visible.
“It's just really gross and very psychologically disturbing to see multiple small worms crawling across the surface of your eye.
“This is the first report in 20 years of this occurring in the United States, and that's about how regularly this happens. It's a very rare situation.”
The worms had to be carefully removed through a process of tweezing and chemical flushing but eventually all of them were removed. The worms are transmitted by flies that are attracted to the film of tears that sit in the corner of each person’s eye. Normally, these worms infest cattle who cannot readily saw the flies away but in humans the flies never get a chance to properly feed. That is until this incredibly rare case. Since the woman often rides horses, doctors suspect that the infection may have occurred while she was unable to free her hands and swat the fly away.
Doctors still reiterate that there have only ever been 11 recorded case of any eye-worm infestations in the US, regardless of species, and emphasise that the risk of contracting the infection is incredibly small. Despite this, they state that if you yourself are concerned then you can wear a hat with a face net to eliminate the chance of infection.