28-year-old Abbey Beckley felt an extremely uncomfortable itching sensation in her left eye one day and thought it was because there was a stray eyelash that got into her eyes. She would have never thought that the source of her irritation was actually caused by tiny translucent worms.
Beckley tried to rub her eyes and dowse it with water but nothing seemed to work as she felt her left eye becoming increasingly sore and irritated. She then went to take a closer look in the mirror.
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At first she could not see anything in her eye when she looked in the mirror
Beckley says, “When I looked in the mirror, I couldn’t see anything.” Her eye felt worse by the minute and so she decided to put an end to it once and for all. She recalls “I finally couldn’t take it any[more], I went to the mirror and decided I’m going to pull out whatever was in my eye, even if I have to rip part of my eye out.”
She saw a piece of translucent fuzz and pinched it out with her fingers. To her surprise she discovered it was some sort of worm. She says, “It was alive and squiggling around.” Although she was shocked that something like this was in her eye, she remained calm.
She believed that it may have been a harmless salmon worm and that she had caught it when she was working as a deckhand on a commercial salmon fishing boat in Alaska.
Her eye was red and swollen but she managed to pull out a piece of translucent fuzz
She got herself to a clinic but the clinicians were dumbfounded. They pulled out two more worms and an ophthalmologist pulled out another two. Beckley was no longer in pain but she became increasingly worried as she thought of the worse case scenario and that was the possibility of losing her vision.
Her boyfriends parents then got her an appointment with an infectious disease specialist in Portland who assured Beckley that they could cure her of her extraordinary predicament. A team of scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention took on Beckley’s case and was successful in mending her eye. There was a total of 14 worms in her eye and this incident was the first of it’s kind.
A team of scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention took out the remaining worms from Beckley’s eye
Medical parasitologist Richard Bradbury said “We never expected to see this particular species in a human.” He also stated that this type of worm had only ever been found in cattle before and human infections are extremely rare.
“When the ophthalmology people checked me out, they said, ‘this is probably mucous,’” Beckley recalled. She knew what she pulled out before and thought to herself “You have to show yourself. Within 30 minutes, she felt that by-now familiar sensation.”
She said “I’ll never forget the look on the intern’s face when he saw one squiggle across my eye.”