Doctors find ‘blue mass’ of 27 missing contact lenses in woman’s eye

According to a report in the British Medical Journal, the woman was not aware she had 27 lost contact lenses in her eye when she went in for cataract surgery.

Doctors in the U.K. have discovered 27 missing contact lenses in a woman’s right eye.

The 67-year-old unnamed patient, who was being prepped for cataract surgery in November 2016, was recently profiled in a report in the the British Medical Journal.

“Contact lenses are a valuable aid to help correct vision however they need to be monitored regularly,” specialist trainee Rupal Morjaria of National Health Service in the U.K. tells Global News in an e-mail. “This patient was lucky … contact lens overwear can cause sight threatening complications.”

The surgery

Morjaria, who found 10 of the contact lenses, says the patient did not complain of any symptoms prior to her routine cataract surgery or even realize contacts were missing. In fact, she thought her discomfort and dryness in the one eye was due to age.

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READ MORE: What docs found when they studied eye surfaces of contact lens users

“[She] had reduced vision in the eye in question,” Morjaria explains. “During sub-tenon anaesthesia, the aneathetist Richard Crombie noticed the big blue mass.”
27 contact lens eye
Courtesy Rupal Morjaria Courtesy Rupal Morjaria

After further examination by Morjaria and her team, senior surgeon Dr. Amit Patel found a separate blue mass of 17 contact lenses stuck together by mucus.

“She was very surprised when I told her on the day of initial surgery, but relieved that we had found a reason for the foreign body sensations she had for years,” Morjaria says. “She had ignored this and thought it was part of her.”

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According to Optometry Today, the patient had been wearing monthly disposable contact lenses for 35 years.

She was later treated with antibiotics and had a routine cataract surgery on a later date. She is currently doing fine without any complications.

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“Nowadays, contact lenses are more readily available via other means and people may be neglecting to have regular checkups. This case highlights how important it is,” she says.

READ MORE: Eyeball-eating amoeba? 5 things contact lens users need to know

The risks of wearing lenses

And while contact lenses are easily accessible for people who don’t want to wear glasses all the time, some experts say those who wear them daily are at risk of infections and inflammation.

After studying the eye surfaces of a handful of patients, New York researchers found contact lens users carried three times more bacteria than people who don’t use contacts. This could also explain why the group was more prone to serious eye infections.

READ MORE: Student whose corneas eaten by amoeba a cautionary tale for contact lens wearers

And while there have been all sorts of tales of contacts getting lost in the eye and brain if you sleep with them, Dr. Kirsten North, an optometrist at Merivale Vision Care in Ottawa, says most people will notice a missing contact.

“They will be irritated,” she tells Global News. “There is a piece of plastic in your eye and it will slow down air flow, your eye can also get swollen.”

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Not only this, but leaving contacts in your eyes overnight can also increase your risk of developing infections, she says.

How to safely use contact lenses

Below, North gives some basic tips on how to ensure you are safely using contact lenses.

  • Make sure your hands are clean before you handle them
  • Never use tap water to clean your contacts
  • Never put contact lenses in your mouth
  • Replace your case every three months
  • Replace your contacts depending on the schedule
  • If anything is off, always see a doctor