26-year-old Abby Beckley of Portland, Oregon thought maybe the persistent irritation in her left eye was a loose eyelash… until she managed to pluck what looked like “a piece of fuzz” from beneath her eyelid.
It turned out the “fuzz” was alive… and only one of 14 tiny worms wriggling there.
Beckley told Portland’s KPTV Fox 12 News the irritation started many months ago — when she was visiting Alaska — but this horrific discovery prompted her to return home to seek medical help.
“Between the first worm I pulled out and then the doctor’s appointment, I had seen about four so I knew there wasn’t just one.” Beckley said.
KPTV also interviewed Doctor Erin Bonura, an expert on infectious diseases at the OHSU School of Medicine, who admitted the case was extremely unusual.
“It was honestly the most unique call we’ve ever gotten,” Dr. Bonura said, “because it was relatively unheard of to get worms in the eye in the United States.” Beckley was diagnosed with Thelazia gulosa — a form of parasitic eye worm that is more commonly seen in cows. Beckley did confirm that she had spent time around cattle on a ranch in her home state.
Oddly enough, the safest recommended measure was for Beckley to keep removing the works whenever she spotted one, “because if we give her an antiparasitic agent, the worms would die in there but wouldn’t be removed.”
Still, Beckley managed to successfully extract all 14 parasites herself — over a period of several weeks — and says they haven’t reappeared since.
“When I was going through it… there were parts of it that were so strangely comical,” Beckley told KPTV. “But then there were parts of it that just felt like I was living in a nightmare.” She’s not only glad it’s over, but thankful to be able to share her success story.
“I’m hoping if this ever happens again, that that one person can Google this now and there will be a bunch of stories and they’ll know oh this girl made it out okay, like she’s okay. I can be okay too.”