27 contact lenses removed from a woman’s eye: Case report

A “bluish foreign body” or mass was detected in the eye of a 67 year old British lady. Medical staff initially thought it was a disease or a due to old age that her eye appeared discoloured. Then much to their surprise they noted that it was actually not a disease or cataract but a mass of 27 contact lenses. They reported the unusual case where they pulled out the 27 lenses from her eye successfully. The team with a two decade experience in eye surgery reported that this was the first time they came across something like this.

Contact lenses - Image Credit: Kichigin / Shutterstock
Contact lenses - Image Credit: Kichigin / Shutterstock

Rupal Morjaria a specialist trainee ophthalmologist and her colleagues report this unusual and bizarre case that occurred in November 2016 in the journal British Medical Journal. She reported that the team was gearing up for a cataract operation when they found that it was actually a foreign body. A foreign body refers to an external substance that gets lodged in the body leading to complications.

The surgery was performed at the Solihull Hospital, southeast of Birmingham. After they injected the anaesthetic into the woman’s eye they found that there were 17 contact lenses clumped together. On further exploration they recovered 10 more lenses. What was most surprising according to the team was that the patient did not complain of any irritation. In almost all cases foreign body there is a sense of a foreign body and an irritation. For smaller grainy foreign bodies in the eye there is usually a gritty sensation while for a foreign body this size there should be a sizable amount of discomfort say the doctors. According to Morjaria, the poor old lady thought that the discomfort she was feeling in her eye was due to changes that occur due to old age and due to dry eyes. Two weeks after the operation when the lenses were removed, the lady said that her eyes felt much more comfortable than before.

The patient had been wearing monthly disposable contact lenses for around 35 years according to the report. What was fortunate was that the mass had not triggered an infection as is likely in almost all cases of a foreign body. A mass like this left within the body usually invited microbes that leads to severe infections. Still there was some amount of infection for which the actual eye operation was set at a later date. Once the eye cleared of the bacteria that had accumulated within the eye, the surgeons can safely proceed with the cataract removal operation. Done now the bacteria could cause severe infection called endopthalmitis leading to loss of vision and even serious life threatening consequences as well.

Morjaria explained that most individuals nowadays order the lenses online and fail to report for routine eye check-ups that could detect problems at early stages. While this is an extreme case no doubt, it also raises questions about routine eye examinations and care of eye health especially among those who use contact lenses and go for long hours wearing them. Patient awareness and knowledge regarding correct use of lenses and other medical devices is also of foremost importance Morjaria said.

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