Sunday 21 July, 2019

Taiwanese woman's 'eye infection' was actually bees living in her eye

A Taiwanese woman who thought she had an eye infection had to be treated for a small infestation of bees that burrowed themselves in her tear duct.

In early April, the 29-year-old Taiwanese woman went to the Fooyin University Hospital complaining of severe pain in her eye. Upon examination, doctors were surprised to find four bees embedded in her eye, feeding on her tear ducts under her swollen eyelids. 

"I saw something that looked like insect legs, so I pulled them out under a microscope slowly, and one at a time without damaging their bodies," said the hospital's head of ophthalmology, Dr. Hung Chi-ting. 

During a press conference, they were identified as sweat bees who nest near graves and in fallen trees; the odds of encountering them while hiking in the mountains are high.  

"I was visiting and tidying a relative's grave with my family. I was squatting down and pulling out weeds," the woman confirmed during the conference. She initially thought that sand or dirt had gotten into her eye and tried to flush it out with water.

However, she started experiencing a stinging pain and her eye would tear up constantly. Thankfully, she didn't rub her eyes excessively — which could have worsened the state of her inflamed cornea — or in a severe case, could have led to blindness.

During the conference, it was explained that even although sweat bees don't attack people, they are attracted to the perspiration of humans.

According to the Missouri Department of Conservation in the U.S., sweat bees — also known as Halictidae — are small but not aggressive. Instead, they're attracted to perspiration and have a tendency to land on humans to obtain moisture and salts from their sweat. 

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