For the last two weeks Mulund resident P K Krishnamurthy, felt twitching and occasional pain in his right eye. The cause: a 13-cm live worm in his eye! The doctors were stunned to say the least but did manage to pull out the worm. The parasite which was hiding under the conjunctiva (the white portion) had come a long way – from the intestine, through the blood stream – to the eye!
Its journey stunned doctors, who said that they had not heard of a precedent. “We haven’t come across such long worms travelling so far,” said eye surgeon Dr V Seetharaman, who operated upon Krishnamurthy at Fortis Hospital, Mulund. Krishnamurthy started feeling irritation in his right eye a couple of weeks ago and consulted an ophthalmologist who gave him eye drops which didn’t help/
On Wednesday morning, the 75-year-old consulted Dr Seetharaman. “I was shocked when the doctor told me that there was a live worm in my right eye and that I needed to undergo a surgery,” Krishnamurthy said. Dr Seetharaman said that the worm was not only alive, but moving, and was visible by naked eye. “It was coiled up underneath the conjunctiva, below the superficial layer of the eye,” he said. “There have been cases, though very rare, of intestinal worms travelling to the eye. But never a worm as long as this one.” Dr Seetharaman made a small opening in Krishnamurthy’s conjunctiva, and removed the 12.5-cm worm using a pair of forceps. The tricky procedure, which was video-recorded, lasted 15 to 20 minutes.
“The worm could have travelled deeper into the eye or gone to the brain through the optic nerves, which could have been fatal,” the eye surgeon said, adding that the case was his first in his 30-year practice. Krishnamurthy’s wife, Saraswati, who witnessed the surgery, said that the sight of live worm being pulled out from her husband’s eye left her horrified. “It just kept moving and jumping; it was scary for a bit.”
Sarswati almost ironically believed it was her husband’s love for gardening that caused the problem but docs explained to her that it came from her husband’s intestine. Dr Ragini Parekh, an eye surgeon at JJ that sees 300 eye patients in a day, said that intestinal worms that entered the eye were usually small. “In my 20-year practice, this is the first time I have heard about a nearly 13-cm-long worm surgically removed from an eye,” said Parekh, who heads the ophthalmology department. She added that had the worm not been removed, it could have died in Krishnamurthy’s eye and caused a toxic reaction. “The patient could even lose his/her eye in such cases,” she said.