Roundworm Migration into the Eye

Written on December 19, 2011 by Staff Veterinarian

Roxy, a 1 year old, Golden Retriever mix recently rescued from Arkansas was referred to the Ophthalmology Department at Port City Veterinary Referral Hospital because of the suspicion for acute ocular trauma.  Her left eye’s anterior chamber was filled with blood and the eye was generally inflamed.   No signs of external trauma were noted during the examination.  With the aid of the slit lamp, Dr. Cassotis was able to confirm the presence of an adult roundworm within the anterior chamber of the left eye.  The worm looked like a long, whispy, rapidly moving object “swimming” rapidly in the blood tinged aqueous humor.   Since the worms are very sensitive to light, it became hyperactive when illuminated making it easier to identify.

Bleeding in the eye is a serious concern and despite the presence of the worm, the inflammation and hemorrhage in the eye required initial treatment.  Roxy was treated with topical steroids to reduce inflammation and also resolve the intraocular hemorrhage.  The result was excellent (see picture above).  No adhesions, scars, or cataracts had developed.  The retinal examination was normal.  Her vision was clinically normal.  The worm though was still alive and active.

Once inflammation was reduced, the decision for surgical removal of the worm was made.  The plan was to have Roxy undergo microsurgery.  Under the influence of general anesthesia and with the assistance of an operating microscope, a single incision was created into the cornea to enter the inside of the eye.  A thick fluid called viscosurgical device was injected into the opposite side of the chamber.  This fluid prevented the worm from swimming.  As the viscosurgical device was injected, the normal fluid of the eye was released through the incision.  As the incision was widened, the worm passively followed the fluid as it was intentionally let out of the eye.   The 6cm, long worm was gently grasped and withdrawn.   New fluid filled the eye and the incision was closed with suture.  Roxy made an excellent recovery (see picture below) and has undergone systemic deworming therapy since the removal of the worm was made.


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