• The man said he was gardening when he felt something enter his eye
  • The 53-year-old then visited a hospital after hours of nagging irritation
  • Doctors plucked the larvae one by one using a pair of tweezers

A man, who visited a hospital in France with a badly itching eye, was in for a bitter surprise after the doctors found his cornea was infested with dozens of squirming fly larvae.

The 53-year-old man said he had been gardening near a horse and a sheep farm the same day and felt something enter his right eye. He then developed a nagging irritation. As the sensation lasted for several hours, the unidentified man went to the emergency room at the University Hospital of Saint-Etienne. The doctors did a quick scan of his eye and found "more than a dozen mobile, translucent larvae" lurking inside the cornea and the conjunctiva, Medical Express reported on April 7.

A team of doctors published a report pertaining to the diagnosis and the treatment of the problem in the New England Journal Of Medicine. The report stated once the doctors clearly identified the larvae, they physically removed them one by one with the help of a pair of tweezers. After successfully extracting the crawlies, the doctors identified them as Oestrus ovis, alternatively known as sheep bot fly.

The doctors called the condition external ophthalmomyiasis. Medics said the presence of fly larvae in the cornea resulted in conjunctival hyperemia or dilated blood vessels. The medical team, however, didn't find any abrasions due to the use of body spicules by the larvae. In a follow-up appointment, the doctors found the man to have completely recovered.

Sheep bot flies, as the name suggests, typically lay their eggs in the nostrils of sheep. Once deposited, the larvae wiggle their way through the nasal passage and get lodged into the sinuses where, after feeding on mucus, they develop into maggots. After a few weeks, the maggots come out from the nose and fall onto the ground, where they mature further and grow into adult flies. Earlier studies have proved sheep bot flies also have records of human infestation.

In February 2022, a medical team in India successfully removed three live human bot flies from the eyelid of a 32-year-old woman who had visited the Amazon jungle two months prior. The woman, a U.S. native, visited the hospital complaining of swelling in the right upper eyelid as well as inflammation. She also revealed about occasionally feeling something moving inside her eyelid over the last few weeks. One bot fly was taken out from the right upper eyelid, the second was removed from the back of her neck, and a third was found in her right forearm. All flies were almost two centimeters in size.

Doctors found dozens of sheep bot fly larvae in gardener's cornea Pixabay