Man Almost Blinded by Maggot Larvae


One of the stories to be told on the Animal Planet series "Monsters Inside Me," will be a case of ocular myiasis which almost blinded a young Arkansas man.

Kenneth Watson, now 21, was 16 and living in Hardy, Arkansas. One day he felt a gnat fly into his right eye which he quickly removed. Two weeks later while waiting for the school bus, he noticed all he could see from the eye was a large dark dot in the center of his vision.

Watson’s doctors found a maggot in his eye while performing the surgery to treat the retinal hemorrhage.

Ocular Myiasis

Myiasis (my-EYE-uh-sis) is defined as the invasion of living animal tissue by fly larvae (maggots). When larvae invade the eye, this condition is termed ocular myiasis (OM) or ophthalmomyiasis (op-THAL-mo-my-EYE-uh-sis).


Larvae most commonly attack the lids or conjunctiva (external ophthalmomyiasis), but in rare instances they may penetrate into the eyeball itself (internal ophthalmomyiasis) as happened to Watson.

External OM can usually be remedied without complications. Internal OM is very serious and often results in serious damage including blindness.

OM is characterized by a condition similar to conjunctivitis, marked by pain, burning, itching, redness, and tearing in the affected eyes. Often these symptoms are accompanied by the sensation of a foreign body moving in the eye. It is rare for the larvae to invade the globe of the eye, but when it does it can cause retinal damage and blindness.

Today, Watson is 21 and lives in Memphis, Tenn., having survived largely unscathed. He has his vision, but now must wear glasses.

ABC News
New England Journal of Medicine
U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine