A woman had 27 contact lenses lodged in her eye. She didn't know they were there.
The discovery was made by surgeons during an examination at Solihull Hospital, and revealed by specialist trainee ophthalmologist Rupal Morjaria.
Ms Morjaria said a "blueish mass" of 17 lenses were found in the eye of the patient, who was scheduled for a cataract operation. A further 10 were found in a second inspection.
Well would you look at that
The operating team, which included an ophthalmologist with more than 20 years of experience, were startled by the discovery, Ms Morjaria said in Optometry Today.
“None of us have ever seen this before,” she said. “It was such a large mass. All the 17 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."
The cataract surgery was postponed after doctors found the contact lenses due to an increased risk of endophthalmitis – which is a serious inflammation of the eye.
Ms Morjaria added: “Because she had harboured these contact lenses in her eye for an unknown length of time, if we had operated she would have had a lot of bacteria around her conjunctiva."
The patient had been wearing monthly disposable contact lenses for the past 35 years, but hadn't been attending regular optometrist appointments. The woman hadn't reported any symptoms linked to the stray lenses.
Ms Morjaria told the science journal: “She was quite shocked. When she was seen two weeks after I removed the lenses she said her eyes felt a lot more comfortable. She thought her previous discomfort was just part of old age and dry eye."
Eye don't believe it
The case, which occurred in November last year, was first reported in The BMJ , but has been made public because clinicians involved didn't previously believe that having so many lenses lost in the eye could be possible.
“In this day and age, when it is so easy to purchase contact lenses online, people become lax about having regular check ups,” added Ms Morjaria.
“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."
Association of Optometrists clinical and regulatory officer, Henry Leonard, told OT that most patients probably would've had "significant discomfort", and that the case was "exceedingly rate". But added that it's important for contact lens wearers to have regular check ups.