Recently, doctors in the U.K. found 27 contact lenses in a patient’s eye while she was being prepped for cataract surgery. Seventeen of the lenses were clumped together into a “bluish, hard mass.” The case was recorded in the British Medical Journal by Rupal Morjaria, a specialist trainee ophthalmologist who worked with the patient. The lenses were bound together by mucus.
Ten more contacts were found by the surgeon by using a microscope. As for the patient? According to the journal, she was “surprised.” The 67-year-old assumed her eye troubles were attributed to her age.
“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. She thought her previous discomfort was just part of old age and dry eye.”
It has been recorded that the patient had deep set eyes, a feature that would allow for a larger number of contacts to get stuck without becoming symptomatic. The team of optometrists were very surprised, however, that the patient didn’t feel any irritation from the large mass.
“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,” said Morjaria.
One member of the operating team had more than 20 years experience and, according to the ophthalmology trainee, was shocked by the case — along with everyone else on the team.
“None of us have ever seen this before,” she said. “It was such a large mass. All the 17 contact lenses were stuck together.”
The initial reason for the visit, the cataract surgery, ended up being postponed due to increased risks. With the patient wearing disposable contacts for roughly 35 years without regular visits to the eye doctor there was a concern around bacteria for the team of ophthalmologists.
“Because she had harboured 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,” said Morjaria.
According to the specialist, this case has been released in an effort to raise awareness about eye health.
“In this day and age, when it is so easy to purchase contact lenses online, people become lax about having regular check ups,” she said. “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.”
While it may not seem like a big deal to skip that eye appointment, let this cautionary tale be the reason you don’t — and the inspiration for regularly changing your contact lenses.