A 68-year-old woman from Nebraska started to feel an irritation in her right eye back in March 2018. Upon flushing it with tap water, she found she had dislodged a moving roundworm about half an inch (1.3 centimeters) in length.
The woman spends her winters in California in an area called Carmel Valley. The inland valley located about 13 miles (21 kilometers) from the coast is known for its wineries and hiking trails.
She was there in March 2018 when she felt irritation in her right eye and so flushed the eye with tap water. That’s when a 0.5-inch (1.3 centimeters), wriggly roundworm came out. After this discovery, she looked more closely at her eye and saw a second roundworm, which she also removed, the report said.
The next day, the woman went straight to an eye doctor in Monterey, California, who retrieved a third roundworm (also known as a nematode) from the woman’s eye and preserved the worm in formaldehyde. The doctor told the woman to continue to flush her eye with distilled water to remove any more worms. She was given a topical medication to prevent any bacterial infections from taking hold.
The preserved worm sample was sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where researchers determined that the woman was infected with a species of eye worm called Thelazia gulosa. Only one other human case of T. gulosa has ever been reported, in a 26-year-old Oregon woman who became infected in August 2016.