17 were stuck together and 10 others were floating around.
Sometimes, there’s more to old age than meets the eye—sometimes, it’s 27 contact lenses jammed in there, according to a case study published this month in the British Medical Journal.
A 67-year-old British woman, complaining of eye discomfort and dryness, was scheduled last November to have routine surgery to remove cataracts when doctors discovered a “blueish mass” of 17 disposable contact lenses stuck in one of her eyes. Upon further examination, they fished out 10 more, the case study reveals.
Doctors were startled, according to Rupal Morjaria, a specialist trainee ophthalmologist on the case who spoke with Optometry Today. “None of us have ever seen this before,” she said. “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.”
It’s unclear how long the contact lenses had been in there or over what period they accumulated. But, she told doctors that she had been using the monthly disposable lenses for 35 years and did not get frequent eye exams in that time.
The woman, who was equally shocked by the discovery, said she was a lot more comfortable after the lenses were removed, Morjaria reported.
Morjaria and colleagues decided to publish the case to warn other doctors that so many stuck lenses could go unnoticed by a patient—something doctors had assumed would cause far too much irritation to ignore. Over time, those stuck lenses can amass bacteria and spur an infection, they cautioned.
“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,” Morjaria said.
Although the woman in this case did not present with an infection, she did have a lot of bacteria in her eye from the contact clumps. Her cataract surgery was postponed allowing the bacteria to clear.
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