Rare Tumor Causes Hair to Sprout From Man's Eyeball

limbal dermoid tumor
Image New England Journal of Medicin

A 19-year-old man had gone to the doctor with a rather hairy situation: apparently his eyeball had started to sprout thin strands of black hair, according to a new report.

The man had gone to the ophthalmology clinic with a rare tumor, called limbal dermoid, that had reportedly been present ever since his birth, but has gradually grown in size.

Doctors writing in the report published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that while the Iranian man's tumor was benign and did not cause him any pain, it was little by little growing in size until it reached about 5 mm or about a quarter of an inch in diameter.

What's more is that the tumor had started sprouting several strands of black hairs, according to the researchers from Tabriz University of Medical Sciences in Iran.

The researchers report that while the man was not in pain, the tumor has caused vision defects, mild discomfort when blinking and the intermittent feeling of the presence of a foreign body in his eye.

Dr. Mark Fromer, director of Fromer Eye Centers in New York City and an ophthalmologist at Lenox Hill Hospital who was not involved in the report, told My Health News Daily that limbal dermoids are rare and that he had only seen one or two cases in his career.

Fromer said that limbal dermoid tumors contain tissue normally found in other body parts. He said that these tumors usually contain hair follicles and that they can also contain other bodily tissues like cartilage and sweat glands.

Limbal dermoids can cause astigmatism or blurred vision. Fromer said that these eye tumors usually do not cause severe vision problems because they generally do not cover the center of the cornea, an essential region of the eye that is important for vision.

While limbal dermoids can be removed for cosmetic reasons, removing them generally does not help with patients' eyesight. Former said that he is currently treating a female patient with a limbal dermoid that also contains hairs, but she does not want it removed.

"It hasn't grown or changed and it doesn't physically bother her," Former said, according to My Health News Daily.

As for the Iranian man, he decided to undergo surgery to remove his hairy tumor.

"The appearance of the mass, with hairs present, was indicative of limbal dermoid," according to the researchers. "

"The lesion was excised, and lamellar keratoplasty was performed for cosmetic reasons," researchers wrote in the report.

"Pathological findings confirmed the diagnosis of limbal dermoid," they added. "As expected, there was little improvement in visual acuity after surgery because of the amblyopia and induced astigmatism."

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