A 68-year-old woman returned from a trail run in California with irritation in her right eye.
She proceeded to do what anyone does when their eye is irritated and flushed it out with water. The woman then discovered something horrific in her eye –– a half-inch long worm, according to a new report of the case published in the journal Clinical Infectious.
After checking even further, she found a second worm that in her eye that she managed to remove herself.
The next day, she went to see an eye doctor in California who retrieved a third worm from her eye. Unfortunately, the situation didn't stop there for the unidentified woman. She pulled a fourth and final worm from the same eye about a month later.
A 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.
The roundworm, which is also known as a nematode, typically infects cows and is carried by certain types of face flies that consume eye secretions, according to LiveScience.
The California woman is only the second person known to have contracted this particular worm, the report of the case said. In 2016, at least 14 worms were found in an Oregon woman's eyes.
While contracting this worm is extremely rare, scientists worry it could be an indication that the disease is spreading.
Having a second human case of the eye worm occur within two years of the first case "suggests that this may represent an emerging zoonotic disease in the United States," the authors of the case study wrote.
The authors of the study also noticed that eggs were developing in the 68-year-old woman's eye, which indicates that "humans are suitable hosts for the reproduction of [the worm]."
While the revelations are nightmarish, the worms can be treated by being removed or with anti-parasite medication, LiveScience reported.