A "routine" cataract surgery uncovered nearly 30 contact lenses stuck together in two separate chunks in a 67-year-old British woman's eye.
Initially published in the British Medical Journal on July 5, the incident at Solihull Hospital in England has piqued the curiosity of eye patients and doctors alike with its peculiar ophthalmological fallout. The "blueish mass" was written off by the patient as simple discomfort caused by dry eyes or old age, The Bellingham Herald reports.
Rupal Morjaria, a specialist trainee of ophthalmology, writes that the first clump found in the woman's eye during her scheduled cataract surgery contained 17 contact lenses stuck together. A second set of 10 contacts were found grouped together on the same eyeball during continued examination. The operating team that included ophthalmologists with more than 20 years of experience had never made such an eye-opening finding.
"None of us have ever seen this before," Rupal Morjaria told Optometry Today. "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."
Due to an increased risk of endophthalmitis, the cataract surgery was postponed after the discovery of the more than two-dozen contacts in the patient's eye. The woman, 67, told doctors she'd been wearing monthly disposable contact lenses for more than 35 years but didn't make regular optometrist appointments.
Patient Reported No Symptoms Related To The 'Missing' Contacts
The patient had reported no symptoms about the missing lenses during pre-operative test and Morjaria and her team said they decided to make this case public because they'd previously believed it was not possible to retain such a large number of contact lenses in one's eye without having any symptoms or noticeable irritation.
"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.
The Association of Optometrists clinical and regulator officer, Henry Leonard, tells Optometry Today that contact lens issues are quite common, such as being stuck under the upper eyelid or dexterity issues, but this case was "exceedingly rare."
"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 Leonard. "Most patients would experience significant discomfort and redness, and be at risk of eye infections."
Morjaria reiterated that patients with contact lenses of any type should regularly visit eye doctors.
"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."