Whether or not you wear contact lenses, you’ve got to ask yourself: How is it possible that someone ends up with numerous contact lenses in their eyes?
In the British Medical Journal, Rupal Morjaria, a specialist trainee ophthalmologist, Richard Crombie, a consultant anesthesiologist and Amit Patel, a consultant ophthalmologist, wrote a brief piece about finding 27 contact lenses in a 67-year-old woman’s eye.
As doctors at England’s Solihull Hospital were prepping the woman for a routine cataract surgery, they were shocked to find a “blueish foreign body” in her right eye.
“[Crombie] put a speculum into the eye to hold the eye open as he put the anesthetic in, and he noticed a blue mass under the top eyelid,” Morjaria told CNN. (1)
According to the lead author Morjaria, the “hard mass” turned out to be 17 contact lenses that were stuck together with mucus. Upon further examination, doctors found an additional 10 lenses.
“None of us have ever seen this before,” said Morjaria. (2) “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.”
Even Dr. Thomas L. Steinemann, a clinical spokesman for the American Academy of Ophthalmology, was in a state of awe. While he’s seen many patients with one contact lens stuck, 27 “is one for the record books, as far as [he] could tell.” (1)
How could she let this happen?
The woman knew how to put contact lenses in as well as take them out — she had been doing so for 35 years. However, as the woman later told surgeons, there were times when she would try to remove the contact lens in her right eye and not be able to find it.
The reality is that while she chalked it up to dropping them, the missing contact lenses were getting stuck around her eye.
Up until she discovered the truth about these lenses, she thought the discomfort she sometimes felt was simply due to old age and dry eye. On top of that, the woman rarely attended ophthalmologist appointments. So, in combination with having deep set eyes, the irritation she did feel was only ever minor — clearly not enough to warrant an eye doctor’s visit.
Interested in the truth behind the 27 contact lenses stuck in the patient’s eye?
Check out this video! In it, EyeSteve will share the science behind how this crazy even became possible.
Related: How Your Eyes Can Predict Disease
Morjaria and her team want to raise awareness
It was previously thought that retaining to many contact lenses was impossible but, clearly, it can happen. While it’s rare to find a case this extreme, anyone who regularly wears contact lenses should be aware of some best practices.
“Patients do sometimes present with a contact lens stuck under their upper eyelid, particularly if they are new to contact lens wear, or have problems with dexterity, but finding this many lenses stuck in someone’s eye is exceedingly rare,” said Henry Leonard, the Association of Optometrists’ clinical and regulatory officer. (2) “Most patients would experience significant discomfort and redness, and be at risk of eye infections.”
As outlined by Steinemann, warning signs of a trapped contact lens include:
- Sharp or scratchy pain
- Light sensitivity
Naturally, the woman’s cataract surgery was put on hold because there was a lot of bacteria present in her eye and they wanted to lessen the risk of infection. But two weeks later, she came in for her surgery and reported feeling “so much better.”
Association of Optometrists on Contact Lenses
Watch this 60-second video to learn the top tips every contact lens wearer should know! (3)
Wash your hands and dry them thoroughly before using any type of contact lens, being sure to follow the recommended procedures.
- Never use tap water to clean lenses.
- Ask your optometrist before changing how you clean your contact lenses.
- Replace your contact lenses regularly to reduce risk of infection.
- Only wear contact lenses for the recommended amount of time.
- Unless given the go-ahead by your optometrist, don’t bathe or swim with your contact lenses in.
- Never share or swap contact lenses with other people.
- Always apply make-up after putting your contact lenses in.
- At least once a year, or as recommended by your optometrist, go to regular after-care appointments.
- When it doubt, take them out — especially if you notice redness, pain, or loss of vision — and contact your optometrist.
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