A doctor preparing to perform a routine cataract surgery on a 67-year-old patient discovered a peculiar clump of disposable contact lenses lodged in the patient’s eye socket. Ophthalmologist Rupal Morjaria, who reported the mucus-laden discovery to the BMJ, found an initial clump of 17 contacts before locating 10 more, apparently welded to the patient’s eyeball.
“It was such a large mass,” Morjaria told Optometry Today. “All 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.”
Finding such a ghastly mass of 35 years’ worth of contacts is uncommon, even for eye doctors. “None of us have ever seen this before,” said Morjaria, who made the discovery in November 2016.
The patient said her eyes were more comfortable, and she reportedly felt a sense of relief after all the lenses were removed. That seems an entirely fair reaction, even before you consider the clump had likely become home to a slimy bacterial ecosystem.
Human eyeballs are notoriously sensitive, as most anyone else who has ever lost a contact inside their eye can attest. So how did this person have such a big clump in there for so long without noticing? She reportedly felt nothing more serious than some mild discomfort, which she assumed was a sign of getting older. Morjaria and her team suggested the patient’s unusually deep-set eyes may have been the culprit, providing the space for all those contacts to hide, while the fact that she had poorer vision in her right eye may help explain why so many ended up there.
For most people, even getting a single contact lodged in the eye is rare. But Morjaria says the risk of such incidents and other contact-related maladies has increased now that people can just buy their contact lenses off the internet without needing an optometrist to examine their eyes first. “In this day and age, when it is so easy to purchase contact lenses online, people become lax about having regular check-ups,” she said. “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.”