As British surgeons were preparing their elderly patient for cataract surgery, they discovered something shocking they have never seen before in their careers. Though this incident happened in November last year, it was brought to light when the British Medical Journal published a report on it on 5 July.

Blueish Mass

In what doctors referred to as a “blueish mass”, 17 contact lenses were found stuck together by mucus in the 67-year-old female patient’s eye. Initially, the patient thought she was suffering from dry eye due to her old age and decided to undergo cataract surgery to get rid of the discomfort.

According to one of the ophthalmologists at Solihull Hospital who worked on this case Rupal Morjaria, a specialist trainee ophthalmologists, “None of us have ever seen this before. 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."

How and why?

These 27 contacts lenses are consequences of the fact that the patient has worn disposable lenses for 35 years. She suffered from poorer vision in the right eye and had deep set eyes, which could have been the reason why all these lenses were retained in her eye. It didn’t help that the patient rarely had regular optometrist appointments.

Due to this shocking discovery, surgeons have decided to postpone the patient’s cataract surgery since she might be at a greater risk of developing endophthalmitis, which is an inflammation of the interior of the eye.

Ms Morjaria agreed by saying, “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.” She also mentioned that the patient did not mention anything regarding her missing lenses in her pre-operative assessment. The patient herself was quite surprised and shocked at what the surgeons discovered. She has since said that her eyes feel a lot more comfortable since the removal of these lenses.

Dangers of contact lenses

British Medical Journal decided to publish this case to bring more awareness to what and how much a person’s eye can retain – and to also open the eyes of other clinicians regarding this issue. The fact that the patient did not feel these 27 lenses stuck in her eye is another unbelievable revelation that clinicians need to be aware of.

The public also needs to be aware of the dangers of wearing contact lenses, especially disposable lenses. Elaborating more on this, Ms Morjaria remarked, “In this day and age, when it is so easy to purchase contact lenses online, people become lax about having regular checkups.”

The potential consequences from these lenses could be hazardous to the eyes – like, serious eye infections – if not used and monitored properly. The Association of Optometrists (AOP) currently has a series of resources that contains advice for contact lens wearers, which could help them take the right precautions when wearing contact lenses.

Henry Leonard, a clinical and regulatory officer at the AOP, said that contact lens wearer should regularly see their ophthalmologists. “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. However, finding this many lenses stuck in someone’s eye is exceedingly rare,” he elaborated. MIMS

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