Doctors Found 27 Contact Lenses Stuck in a Woman's Eye

Contact lenses can be troublesome when left inside in your eyelid for too long, but a 67-year-old woman in the United Kingdom seems to be impervious to the infection-prone consequences of that problem: right before a routine cataract operation, a team of physicians at Solihull Hospital removed 27 contact lenses from her eye. The lenses had all been wedged in a single eye, and were “bound together by mucus” in bundles of 10 and 17, according to a report in the British Medical Journal.

The woman had “no previous ocular complaints” after using contact lenses for 35 years, and is described in the article as having “deep set eyes, which might have contributed to the unusually large number of retained foreign bodies.” Needless to say, the doctors were amazed. Rupal Morjaria, a specialist trainee ophthalmologist told Optometry Today: “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.”

Here's what they looked like after the fact: 

The woman had no signs of infection and very limited pain that she associated with old age. A variety of factors can cause problems for people who use corrective lenses, such as failing to remove them during sleep. Keratitis, for example, is a common infection that can potentially scar the cornea if lenses aren't used properly. According to US National Library of Medicine, “adverse effects due to contact lens wear can be acute or chronic in nature and can span the range from a mere annoyance to a disabling condition that results in permanent ocular damage or loss of the eye.” This woman, however, experienced none of that, despite nearly 30 contact lenses wedged in her eye for an undetermined amount of time. 

Morjaria, who authored the article in BMJ, said she publicized the event to show other doctors that something so bizarre was even possible, let alone without causing pain or infection. “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,” she told OT. The woman’s surgery was postponed given the increased chance of infection.

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Sam Blum is a News Staff Writer for Thrillist. He's also a martial arts and music nerd who appreciates a fine sandwich and cute dogs. Find his clips in The Guardian, Rolling Stone, The A.V. Club and Esquire. He's on Twitter @Blumnessmonster.