Woman Pulls 14 Worms From Eye Due To Rare Infection

Published February 14, 2018

A woman from Oregon thought she had a stray eyelash stuck in her eye. Turns out it was just a parasitic worm.

Eye Worm

NY Daily NewsEye worm

An Oregon woman who thought that she had a stray eyelash in the corner of her eye received a horrifying surprise upon pulling out the problem.

“That morning, I just was so frustrated because I had had this irritant in my eye for about five days,” said Abby Beckley.

Upon plucking out the irritant in her eye, Beckley looked at her finger to discover a tiny translucent white worm. “When I pulled out that worm, I was just in shock,” Beckley said.

That’s one way to describe it.

The worm, which was less than half an inch long, was still alive and wriggling on her finger. It died about five seconds later. But the ordeal wasn’t over, as there were still 13 living worms in Beckley’s eye that she had to remove on her own.

It turns out they were parasitic worms stemming from a rare infection. Now for the horror movie facts: the worms are spread by face flies that feed on the moisture inside an eyeball. Yum.

Worm Finger

The SunThe worm on Abby Beckley’s finger.

After the discovery, Beckley reached out to Dr. Erin Bonura at Oregon Health & Science University as well as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. She was worried that the worms would attack her brain.

Not that it’s the kind of “famous first” people strive for, but Beckley is the first known human to be infected with this parasite. The official name is Thelazia gulosa, and it has been reported in other animals like cattle.

There are serious consequences for not treating Thelazia gulosa. The worms can cause corneal scarring, eventually leading to potential blindness. Also, there’s the grossness factor.

“She was incredible,” Bonura said about Beckley’s ability to handle the less-than-pleasant task.

A definitive conclusion on how she developed the condition has not been determined. However, there is the belief she contracted it while participating in activities like horseback riding and fishing on a coastal, cattle-farming area in Gold Beach, Ore.

The event happened in 2016, when Beckley was 26-years-old, but went public on Feb. 12, 2018, when the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene published a CDC report.

Beckley, now 28, is okay. The condition is rare, and people shouldn’t be worried. She is glad that the story is out though. Just in case it happened to someone else, she doesn’t want them to go through the same confusion and fear that she did.

Next, read about the woman with the rare condition that caused her to sweat blood. Then, in case these images don’t do it for you and you’re looking for a video, watch these doctors find a spider in a woman’s ear.

Kara Goldfarb
Kara Goldfarb is a writer living in New York City.