- A Kentucky man who works for an electric company wound up with a tick in his eye after he did a job that involved untangling a tree from a power line.
- Chris Prater said he felt "irritation" in his eye, but his eye doctor immediately spotted the tick and removed it with tweezers.
- Eye doctors explain how common this is, how hard it is to remove a tick (or other small bugs) from the eye, and what you can do to keep yourself safe.
When you have something stuck in your eye, it's easy to assume it's harmless and will work its way out soon. But that was anything but the case for one unlucky man in Kentucky.
Chris Prater, who works for an electric company, is recovering after a tick latched onto his eyeball. Prater told WYMT-TV that he sprayed himself with insect repellant before going to a job that involved untangling a tree from a power line. But, at the end of the day, he started having "irritation" in his eye.
Prater asked his office safety manager to take a look. The two discovered a spot on his eye, but it wouldn't move, even after Prater flushed his eye several times. "The thing of it is, I really didn't want to go to the doctor. I figured if it was something it would come out on its own," he said. But Prater finally decided to see an eye doctor after the spot and irritation persisted.
"When the doctor finally comes in, he was looking at it," Prater said. "He said, 'I know what's in your eye.'" When Prater was told there was actually a tick in his eye, he said he "got scared a little bit." "I leaned around and looked at him and I asked him if he was joking and he said, 'No, you have a deer tick or some type of tick.' It was very little."
To remove the tick, the doctor numbed Prater's eye and pulled it out with tweezers. "Once he grabbed ahold of it and pulled it off, the tick made a, like a little popping sound when it came off of my eye," Prater said. He was sent home with antibiotics and steroid drops for his eye, and is now on the mend.
How often do ticks end up in places like your eye?
For the record, the whole tick-in-eye thing is "very uncommon," says Vivian Shibayama, OD, an optometrist with UCLA Health. In fact, most cases of ticks in the eye area happens when they latch onto a person's eyelid, not their eyeball. Even then, it's rare.
However, ticks can end up in strange places. Ticks gravitate toward warm areas of the body —say, under you arms, inside your belly button, behind your knees, or between your legs—but they can even end up in your hair or ears. In fact, doctors recently found a tick embedded in a boy's eardrum, per a 2019 case report.
And while getting a tick in your eyeball is rare, "flies, like fruit flies or gnats, are not uncommon," says Benjamin Bert, MD, an ophthalmologist at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, Calif.
Overall, people are "generally expected to be okay" after something like this, although it will likely be more painful and you'd have a greater risk of scarring if there was a tick on your cornea vs. the white of your eye, explains Randy McLaughlin, OD, an ophthalmologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. "That can be sight-threatening," he says.
How hard is it to remove at tick from the eye?
This is definitely not something you want to try at home, Dr. Shibayama says. For normal tick bites, experts recommend removing the critter with fine-tipped tweezers. But while it's "relatively easy" for an eye doctor to do this, it's "difficult for someone without a microscope and tweezers," she adds. Plus, the eye is a sensitive area, so you really don't want to mess bring any sharp objects near it on your own.
If you happen to get some kind of bug in your eye and you're not sure what's going on, Dr. Bert first recommends flushing your eyes with an eye wash or water to try to get it out. If that doesn't do the trick and you still feel like something is in there, call an eye doctor.
An eye doctor will usually remove the tick the same way that Prater's practitioner did, Dr. Shibayama says: By numbing the eye, and plucking it out with surgical tweezers under a microscope.
"If addressed quickly, [a bug] should be very easy to remove with either irrigation, a cotton swab, or a pair of forceps," says Aaron Zimmerman, OD, an associate professor of clinical optometry at The Ohio State University. But, if you let it go too long, you might have to have a more detailed procedure (or be put under for an operation) to remove it.
What can you do to prevent this kind of thing from happening?
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Clearly you can't put tick repellent in your eye, but spraying your clothes with a product that contains DEET, IR3535, picardin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus can help keep ticks away from you.
It's also a good idea to wear sunglasses when you're in areas where ticks are found for an added layer of ocular protection, Dr. Shibayama says.
And if you have been hanging out in common tick habitats, like forests or grassy areas, make sure you do a full-body check once you make your way indoors. Then, take a shower and toss the clothes you were wearing in the wash (and dry on high heat). Be sure to check your pets for ticks, too, so they don't end up hitchhiking their way into your home.
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Doctor Finds Tick in Man's Eye After He Feels Persistent "Irritation", Source:https://www.prevention.com/health/a28409162/kentucky-man-tick-in-eye/