The biggest nightmare for wearers of contact lenses came true for one British woman late last year. The 67-year-old went in for cataract surgery at Solihull Hospital in England last November. In addition to the cataracts, she also complained of pain in her right eye, which she assumed was caused by dry eyes or old age. She had been experiencing this discomfort for years but did not bring it up until the day of her surgery.
Once surgeons began operating, they quickly discovered the cause of the unidentified woman’s pain. They found a bluish mass in her eye, and at first did not know what it was. Upon examining it, they found that the lump was a mass of 17 contact lenses, held together by mucus. When they decided to further examine her eye, they subsequently found ten more lenses. At this point, they decided to abandon the cataract surgery due to the risk of infection.
Doctors were unable to determine how long the lenses had been lodged in the woman’s eye, but she reportedly had worn disposable monthly contacts for around 35 years. She later told doctors that she often could not find contacts when she tried to remove them from that eye. She assumed they had always just fallen out. The patient’s deep-set eyes probably contributed to her not noticing the lenses as they accumulated high up under her eyelid. Strangely, no stuck lenses were discovered in her left eye, though the poorer vision in her right eye might also have contributed to the problem.
While doctors routinely find contacts stuck in patient’s eyes, a spokesman for the American Academy of Ophthalmology has stated that this is the highest number of contact lenses ever found in one patient’s eye.
Though the first surgery was cancelled, the patient returned two weeks later for a second attempt at removing her cataracts. She reported to her doctors that she felt much better and was no longer experiencing any pain. Her cataracts were removed successfully and there was no lasting damage from the stuck lenses. Since soft contact lenses are prone to soaking up bacteria, the woman is very lucky that she did not suffer a severe infection. It is not known if she returned to wearing the disposable lenses after her surgery was completed.