If you're a regular contact lens wearer, then you're probably familiar with the pain that comes with having even the tiniest hair on one of your contact lenses, or falling asleep in them. So it probably comes as a shock that doctors at England’s Solihull Hospital found 27 contact lenses in a 67-year-old patient’s eye when she was being prepped for surgery, and she didn't even realize they were there.
A write-up in the British Medical Journal by Rupal Morjaria, Richard Crombie, and Amit Patel, claims that the three doctors found the lenses clumped in a "blueish mass bound together by mucus."
“She was quite shocked,” Morjaria told Optometry Today. “When she was seen two weeks after I removed the lenses she said her eyes felt a lot more comfortable.”
The operating team, which included an ophthalmologist with more than 20 years of experience, were startled by the discovery. Morjaria explained that 17 of the contact lenses were found crumpled together, and that another 10 individual contact lenses were discovered following further examination.
“None of us have ever seen this before. It was such a large mass. All the 17 contact lenses were stuck together. We were really surprised that the patient didn’t notice it because it would cause quite a lot of irritation while it was sitting there.”
The patient's cataract surgery was delayed following the discovery, because of risk of inflammation.
“Because she had harbored these contact lenses in her eye for an unknown length of time, if we had operated she would have had a lot of bacteria around her conjunctiva.”
The woman said she had been wearing contact lenses for 35 years, but had not attended appointments with her optician, hence the buildup. She believed that the discomfort caused by the contact lenses was due to old age.
"She was quite shocked. When she was seen two weeks after I removed the lenses she said her eyes felt a lot more comfortable. She thought her previous discomfort was just part of old age and dry eye.”
Morjaria explained that the team decided to publish the case because in an online age, many people buy contact lenses without regularly seeing a professional.
“In this day and age, when it is so easy to purchase contact lenses online, people become lax about having regular check ups.”
“Contact lenses are used all the time, but if they are not appropriately monitored we see people with serious eye infections that can cause them to lose their sight.”
That had to be painful.