Woman had a contact lens stuck in her eye for 28 years

A 28-year-old hard contact lens was pulled out of a woman's eyelid. Doctors say it was largely intact in her eye, but cracked as they removed it. BMJ Case Reports

Contact lenses can be a hassle, and having one stuck in your eye is a very irritating and sometimes painful experience.

But sometimes, people don’t even realize that there’s something in there at all.

A 42-year-old woman in the U.K. unknowingly carried around a contact lens inside her eye for 28 years, according to a new paper published in the journal BMJ Case Reports.

Doctors found it after she complained of a swollen eyelid. A lump above her left eye had grown and gotten painful to the touch. Her eyelid also drooped slightly – though the woman said that this had been around for a while and never bothered her.

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A photo of the woman’s eyes, showing a very slight droop (or ptosis) of her left eyelid. BMJ Case Reports

Her vision was fine and her eye appeared otherwise normal with no unusual discharge or anything. The problem seemed mostly to be that swollen lump.

Doctors took an MRI scan to try to figure out what it was. The scan clearly showed a lump of some kind above her eye, with characteristics consistent with a cyst. So, they decided to do surgery to remove the lump.

MRI scan of the woman’s head, with arrows pointing to the cyst above her eye. BMJ Case Reports

As surgeons tried to remove the cyst, it ruptured. Inside was a contact lens.

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This lens was “extremely fragile,” the paper’s authors wrote. Once they pulled it out, doctors confirmed that it was a rigid gas permeable lens – colloquially known as a “hard contact lens.”

This type of contact has been around since the 1960s, according to the Canadian Association of Optometrists. Although they’re less common nowadays than soft contact lenses, they’re a bit more durable and easy to care for. One of the dangers of this lens though is that it can be dislodged more easily while playing sports or other activities.

That’s what doctors think happened to this woman. She hadn’t worn hard contacts since she was 14 years old. That year, she was playing badminton and was hit in the eye by the birdie. She was wearing contact lenses at the time and the lens was dislodged – she assumed it had fallen out.

But instead, doctors think, the lens lodged inside her eyelid, where it remained for nearly three decades.

Doctors still aren’t sure what exactly caused the woman to react 28 years later to the contact lens, given that she had been fine for so long.

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WATCH: 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.

Click to play video: '27 contact lenses fused together found in woman’s right eye'
27 contact lenses fused together found in woman’s right eye

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