How to remove a leech from an eyeball

A LEECH which had attached itself to an Australian woman’s eyeball has been removed by doctors who had to think “outside the box”.

The 66-year-old woman was gardening in the backyard of her suburban Sydney home in March last year, when she accidentally flicked some moist soil and the leech into her left eye.

Her husband then watched in alarm as the leech wriggled its way over her cornea, headed for safety and a feed via the eye’s mass of delicate blood vessels.

The unusual case report is published in Emergency Medicine Australasia, the journal of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine.

“It was tucked up underneath her upper eyelid,” says emergency doctor Toby Fogg who helped to remove the blood-sucking critter.

“Our little fellow started off at about half a centimetre and by the time we removed it it was about 2cm long – it had quite a good lunch.”

Dr Fogg says tweezers were not an option as simply pulling the leech off could leave its head lodged in the eyeball, leading to infection.

A check of the medical literature revealed two other suggestions – using an anaesthetic on the eye to put the leech to sleep, or salted water.

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