We’ve all heard about the dangers of leaving contact lenses in for too long. But this latest case reported in the British Medical Journal takes things to the extreme, as doctors reveal they have removed an excruciating 27 contact lenses from a woman’s eye.
The 67-year-old woman in question was meant to be undergoing surgery to treat cataracts, but during the examination of one her eyes, a trainee surgeon found a “bluish mass” in the eye, which they later found to be 17 contact lenses all stuck together. After the initial shock, the doctors then found a further 10 individual contact lenses all within the same eye.
“None of us have ever seen this before,” specialist trainee ophthalmologist Rupal Morjaria told Optometry Today. “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 case took place in Solihull Hospital, central England. Despite the great amount of discomfort that would have been expected from having so many contact lenses stuck in an eye, the patient reported that she thought the soreness was due to her old age and dry eye.
Prior to the lead up to her cataracts surgery, the woman had not reported any problems, apart from poorer vision in the right eye. It was only when she attended the hospital for cataract surgery that medical professionals found the solid mass of contact lenses, bound together by mucus.
The patient is thought to have worn monthly contact lenses for 35 years and did not attend regular ophthalmologist appointments. Her poor vision, coupled with the fact that she had deep set eyes, is thought to be how she somehow managed not to notice much apart from minor irritation.
The surgery for her cataracts has, understandably, been put on hold. Since the lenses have been in her eye for an unknown period of time, her conjunctiva likely contains a lot of bacteria, which means the threat of infection after surgery is simply too high.
The doctors reported the case because it was previously thought impossible to retain so many lenses and remain almost asymptomatic, as well as to to highlight the importance of having regular check-ups, particularly now that contact lenses can so easily be bought online.