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July 26, 2019

He went to an optometrist with an irritated eye. Then the doctor pulled out a tick.

Daily Briefing

    Earlier this month, Chris Prater felt something in his eye and tried to flush it out. When that didn't work, he went to his optometrist—who pulled a tick out of Prater's eye.

    The dramatic rise of tick- and mosquito-borne diseases, charted

    A tick in the eye

    Prater, a resident of Floyd County, Kentucky, told the local news outlet WYMT that the irritation began after he conducted a tree-cutting job to clear some power lines. Prater told his safety manager, who examined the eye and tried unsuccessfully to flush the irritant out.

    "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," Prater said. So he waited, thinking that perhaps he had some sawdust in his eye that would eventually go away.

    But the irritation persisted.

    Prater visited an optometrist, who delivered the strange news: Prater had a tick in his cornea.

    When he first heard the diagnosis, Prater said he "got scared a little bit."

    "I leaned around and looked at [the optometrist] and I asked him if he was joking and he said, 'No, you have a deer tick or some type of tick,'" Prater said.

    The optometrist numbed Prater's eye and pulled the tick out with a pair of tweezers. According to Prater, the tick made a "little popping sound" as it was being pulled out. The optometrist then sent Prater home with antibiotics and a prescription for steroid eye drops.

    Being aware during tick season

    Prater's safety manager posted photos of the tick in Prater's eye online, and according to WYMT, as of Friday the post had 92,000 shares.

    According to CNN, while Prater's case is unusual, it's not the first case of a tick taking up residence in someone's eye. A 2011 report from the American Academy of Ophthalmology included a case in which a doctor pulled a live tick out of a man's eye.

    According to CDC, ticks commonly latch onto places they can hide on a person's body, such as in and around the ears, hair, and inside belly buttons. Tick bites can lead to serious medical conditions such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever—but CDC says "there's no need to panic." If you find a tick on your skin, you can remove the insect yourself with a pair of tweezers.

    CDC advises that people use insect repellant to protect from ticks, and Prater said he always tries to "spray down really good" before he goes to work. Now, he's warning people who hike or camp to be sure to use insect repellant.

    "But you can't spray your eyes," Prater said (Andrew/Ahmed, CNN, 7/17; Knowles, Washington Post, 7/17; Fletcher, WYMT, 7/15).

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