Fact Check: Can playing games on mobile cause worms in the eyes?

Quick Take

An extremely graphic video is widely being shared on Facebook and through WhatsApp. The video shows a number of worms in the eyes of a person. The caption says, “Playing games for long cause a parasite in the eye.” We fact-checked and found that the claim is false.

The Claim

The post reads, “Playing games on the mobile phone cause a parasite.” Along with the post, a muted video is shown where a number of worms are squirming in the eyes of a person.

Such posts can be seen here, here, and here.

Fact Check

Is the video real?

The video is real but used out of context. It is a video from 2013 of a patient from Kerala who was being operated on on his eye by a doctor named Ashley Mulamoottil. Dr. Mulamoottil posted the video on his Facebook page to create awareness against a particular disease called Loiasis that caused the worms (Loa Loa) in his patient’s eyes.

The original video was muted and a part of it was used out of context.

What is Loa Loa? Can playing on mobile phones for long duration cause Loa Loa?

Loa Loa is a parasitic worm that causes the disease Loiasis or as popularly known African Eye. The website of CDC mentions, the disease is “passed on to humans through the repeated bites of deerflies.” The Loa Loa worms reside inside the skin or on the eyes of the infected person. Often surgical removal of adult worms moving under the skin or across the eye can be done as a part of the treatment procedure of Loiasis.

There is no scientific evidence that suggests that long use of mobile phones for the purpose of games or studies can cause Loa Loa worms in the body.

We talked to Eye Surgeon Dr. Aftab Alam, MBBS, DO (Ophthalmology). He confirms, “Loa Loa is a filarial nematodes disease which means it is a type of roundworm disease. The worm does infect the eye of a patient and hence it is also known as Eye Worm. Using mobile phones has nothing to do with this parasitic infection.”

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