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Optometrist Removes 23 Contact Lenses From Patient's Eye In Gruesome Viral Video

You might want to finish your lunch before you watch this


Dr. Katie Spalding


Dr. Katie Spalding

Freelance Writer

Katie has a PhD in maths, specializing in the intersection of dynamical systems and number theory.

Freelance Writer

close-up photo of blue eye wearing a contact lens
A terrible day to have eyes in more ways than one. Image Credit: Alex Kaft/

If you want a particularly unforgettable reminder to take your contact lenses out every night – or you just fancy a shiny new sleep paralysis demon – look no further. A video by an optometrist in Newport Beach, California, has gone viral after showing a patient having no fewer than 23 contact lenses removed from her eye – we’ll warn you, it’s pretty gnarly.

“Toward the end of the day, a patient in her mid-70s who wore daily contact lenses came in saying she felt she had something in her eye that she couldn't get out,” optometrist Katerina Kurteeva explained in a conversation with Insider. “My mind jumped to the possibilities of what it could be: a piece of broken contact lens, a scratch on the cornea, an infection, an eyelash, or debris from makeup. I'd only know for sure once I did the examination.”


Kurteeva began the standard investigation: she applied a yellow stain to the patient’s eye to make any scratches or foreign bodies easier to spot. As she searched across the cornea, into the upper and lower fornixes (little pockets in the eyelid, where sensitivity is lower and things can sometimes get trapped) she was surprised to find … nothing.

“I didn't see much,” she told Insider. “Just a little bit of mucous, which could be a natural response to irritation. I was puzzled.”

So she took a different tack. She reached for a tool called an eyelid speculum: a handy if dystopian-looking little instrument that can keep the upper and lower eyelids open at the same time. With her hands free, Kurteeva was then able to perform a more intricate examination.

That’s when she saw it. “When I asked her to look down, I could see the edges of a couple of contacts stuck to each other,” she said. “Pulling them out, I felt like I could still see more and asked my assistant to get my phone to record the removal.”


Bananas, isn’t it? Even Kurteeva was shocked by the build-up, describing it as “a huge, dark-purple blob of contact lenses” that “almost looked like a second pupil.”

“In my 20 years as a doctor, I've never seen anything like it,” she told Insider. 

We know what you’re thinking. How – like, seriously, how – could a person miss the fact that they had 23 contact lenses stuck in their eye? 

It’s certainly strange, but not impossible, Kurteeva explained. Part of it may have been due to the patient’s age: in older people, the fornixes are deeper, so there would be much more space for any forgotten lenses to hang out before they started to bother her. 


However, it also likely had a lot to do with the contact lenses themselves. When you – to put it bluntly – shove a foreign object inside your eye every day for years on end, it’s not surprising that your eyeballs get a bit less sensitive: “When a person wears contact lenses over a long period of time, it can cause desensitization of the corneal nerve endings,” Kurteeva told Insider. “She wouldn't have felt something like 23 contact lenses as sharply.”

However it happened, one thing is for sure: the patient was extremely lucky to have escaped so unharmed. Even one lost contact lens can cause potentially devastating problems, but with nearly two dozen in there, Kurteeva warned, “she could have lost her vision, scratched her cornea, or gotten an infection.”

While the video makes for pretty gruesome watching, it’s another worthwhile reminder to follow the proper care instructions for contact lenses. 

“I feel really lucky to have captured this on video to remind people to remove their contact lenses every single night,” Kurteeva told Insider. “This was a happy ending, but it could have gone sour really quickly


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