If putting in contacts ever gives you a fleeting feeling of panic that the lens will get stuck under your eyelid, then look away now — because this story will just make that feeling worse (sorry).
Surgeons in England pulled 27 contact lenses out of a woman's eye last year, they reported in The BMJ in early July. Rupal Morjaria, a specialist trainee ophthalmologist on the case, told Refinery29 in an email that 17 of the lenses were stuck together with eye mucus and at first looked like a "bluish mass." It was only after surgeons removed the mass during what was supposed to be a routine cataract surgery that the doctors realized it was actually a bunch of contact lenses that had gotten lost in her eye.
Morjaria later found 10 more individual contacts.
According to Morjaria, the woman hadn't even realized that the contacts were still in her eye, or that she had lost them. Because she was 67-years-old at the time, the woman just thought that her eye discomfort and dryness was due to old age.
Unsurprisingly, the woman said she felt much better after the 27 contacts were removed from her eye. She had been wearing disposable contacts for 35 years, according to Optometry Today, but hadn't been attending regular eye checkups, which may have found the contact lenses before it got that bad.
That's part of the reason the team decided to publish this case, Morjaria told Optometry Today.
"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."
Morjaria also said that the whole team was shocked to find that many contacts in the woman's eye and that "none of us have ever seen this before."
Another expert, Henry Leonard, clinical and regulatory officer at the Association of Optometrists, told Optometry Today that something like this happening is extremely rare. So, we can at least take comfort in that.