A 19-year-old Iranian man could see an unusually hairy problem.
A rare tumor on his right eyeball sprouted hairs – impairing his vision and causing him discomfort every time he blinked.
The hairy eyeball was the result of a limbal dermoid – skin tissue that can sprout hair, cartilage and even sweat glads.
Doctors had to surgically remove the tumor – which measured 5mm by 6mm – after it began to interfere with the patient’s daily life.
The New England Journal of Medicine reported the bizarre medical anomaly after it was submitted by doctors in Tabriz University of Medical Sciences in Tabriz, Iran.
‘He did not have pain, but the mass caused vision defects, mild discomfort on blinking, and the intermittent sensation of the presence of a foreign body,’ the journal reported.
The man said he had been born with the mass, but it had gradually been growing in size.
It had begun impairing his vision – his left eye was 20/20, but his right eye saw only 20/60.
The man said it had also begun to grow more noticeable.
Dr Mark Fromer, director of Fromer Eye Centers in New York City, told LiveScience.com that limbal dermoids are so rare an optometrist is likely to see only one of two cases over the course of a career.
And despite the man’s surgery being successful, removal of the hairy eyeball tumor actually led to ‘little improvement in visual acuity’ because he had a lazy eye and an astigmatism.
It’s estimated they affect around 2 in every 10,000 people worldwide and are equally common in men and woman. Most people are aware they have them in childhood, as they tend to appear before the age of 16.