A surgeon in the UK removed 27 lost contact lenses from behind the eyes of a 67-year-old woman. The patient was said to have been unaware that the lenses had been lost and attributed to her eye pain and dryness to her age. However, prior to the patient’s cataract surgery in November 2020, specialist trainee ophthalmologist Rupal Morjaria discovered what appeared to be a “bluish mass” of 17 contacts before discovering the other 10 at Solihull Hospital.
The woman had been wearing disposable lenses for 35 years. However, she never underwent regular eye exams, which explains why the lost lenses weren’t discovered previously. However, it’s unclear how she didn’t realize she’d lost lenses given that you would think she would know she hadn’t taken them out after wearing.
The surgeon had never seen anything like it. As Morjaria told Optometry Today, the mass of contact lenses was unlike anything anyone on the team had ever come across. “None of us have ever seen this before,” she admitted. “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 woman’s cataract surgery had to be postponed. Due to the nature of the issue, doctors felt it was important to postpone surgery to ensure her well-being. “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,” Morjaria added.
She was “quite shocked” when she was told about the number of lenses that had slipped behind her eye. “When she was seen two weeks after I removed the lenses she said her eyes felt a lot more comfortable,” Morjaria said. “She thought her previous discomfort was just part of old age and dry eye.”
The case was made public via the British Medical Journal. Morjaria said part of the reason the woman’s case was publicized was to warn others of the importance of having regular eye exams. “In this day and age, when it is so easy to purchase contact lenses online, people become lax about having regular checkups,” 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.”