The eye is a very sensitive organ so we easily feel pain when an eyelash or shampoo gets into it. The pain and irritation that these accidents typically cause are fortunately often temporary.
Eye Irritant Turns Out To Be A Flatworm
A 17-year-old boy in Mexico, however, suffered from a more serious eye problem when an irritant in his eye turned out to be a worm.
The unnamed teenager experienced increasingly intolerable pain in his right eye. His vision also declined to the point that he could only see hand motions but it took three weeks of suffering from the ordeal before he was finally able to see a doctor.
An eye examination eventually revealed what was causing the pain in the boy's eye. It was a flatworm measuring 0.12 inches long and 0.04 inches wide found in the eyeball.
Dr. Pablo Guzman-Salas, who treated the patient, said that the worm, which has set up home and even created holes in the young man's iris, freely moved in the eye. As a result, the boy suffered from serious eye damage to multiple parts of the eye, which include the iris, cornea and the retina.
"Slit-lamp examination of the right eye revealed corneal edema, blood in the anterior chamber, multiple iris perforations, and an inflammatory pupillary membrane with zones of retinal ischemia on the posterior segment," Dr. Guzman-Salas and colleagues said.
"A flattened and mobile trematode was seen moving freely in the anterior chamber, migrating through the iris perforations from the anterior chamber to the posterior chamber of the eye."
The boy had to undergo surgery to remove the worm. The doctors were able to remove the crawling invertebrate in several pieces, according to the report of the case, which was published in The New England Journal of Medicine on Sept. 21. Unfortunately, the teen's vision did not improve.
How The Worm Got Into The Eye
Doctors were not quite sure how the worm got into the boy's eye. The teenager did not report anything that may have exposed him. He did not also swim in bodies of water such as lakes, which are known as a common cause of infection. His bowel was neither found to contain any egg or parasite.
Jules Winokur, from Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said that while the boy's case is not typical, it does actually happen. He said that animals such as skunks, raccoons, dogs, fish, and frogs can carry the parasite.
Treatment of parasitic worms involves a combination of laser surgery, eye drops, oral medications, and eye surgery. Symptoms include mild to severe vision loss, floaters, pain and blind spots.