Fisherman stabbed in eye by catfish spine

Image 1 of 3

A bizarre medical situation unfolded on Lido Beach in June and nearly cost a Manatee County man his eyesight.

Kory Williams never expected one catch would change his life in an instant.

Williams was doing what he loves. He was fishing with his brother-in-law and friends. Their trip was cut short when a catfish's spine pierced Williams' eye.

"I just yanked back to set the fish. It flew out of the water and into my face," Williams said. "I thought I broke my nose and maybe was gonna have a bruise, but immediately I had that poked in the eye feeling."

When his eye began bleeding, his friends rushed him to Sarasota Memorial Hospital.

"They became concerned with my eye because I couldn't see anything out of it," he said.

Williams went in for emergency surgery. Doctors worked to keep his eye from being infected. And his wife rushed to be with him.

"It was scary. I had no idea what to expect," Williams' wife, Brooke said. "I was in shock. Every emotion you can think of came into my brain."

Williams soon learned the catfish's spine tore his retina. Since June, he has undergone four surgeries to save his vision.

The healing process is a long and tedious one, so he spends a lot of time at home, resting. This is the first week he has been able to feel like his old self and try to keep up with his young children.

Dr. Joshua Mali with Eye Associates said he has never seen a case like his.

"First thing is, it's a sharp kind of spine that can puncture the eye. The second issue is, it's [an] organic material. There is a risk of infections, of things of that nature," said Dr. Mali.

Williams has been told, once his eye heals, he will have the vision of a 60-year old man. Dr. Mali said that's not a bad outcome.

"The eye is a very sensitive organ. Probably the most delicate organ in the body, but it also is the most resilient. It has ability to heal," he said.

Williams is taking it one step at a time, but he said he won't let one bad catch keep him from reeling in the next one.

"I will be back out there as soon as this is done. As soon as I get cleared, I'm going out there. I may get yelled at, but I am going," he said.

A GoFund me page has been started by William's friends to help with his medical expenses: