According to reports, it was unclear how long the woman had the contact lenses lodged in her eye, or when the lenses started accumulating. However, the patient told the physicians that she wore disposable contact lenses monthly for 35 years. The patient also said that she did not have regular eye exams. The woman was equally shocked upon the discovery, but reported feeling more comfortable when the contact lenses were removed.
"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. Because she had harbored 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...In this day and age, when it is so easy to purchase contact lenses online, people become lax about having regular checkups. 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," special trainee ophthalmologist Rupal Morjaria said in an article posted on the Optometry Today website.
According to Morjaria, she and her colleagues decided to publish the case study in order to warn other health professionals that patients may not notice that multiple contact lenses may have accumulated in their eyes. The lenses may accumulate bacteria over time and may cause unwanted infections, the health experts said.
"Patients do sometimes present with a contact lens stuck under their upper eyelid, particularly if they are new to contact lens wear, or have problems with dexterity, but finding [these] many lenses stuck in someone’s eye is exceedingly rare. Most patients would experience significant discomfort and redness, and be at risk of eye infections,” said Henry Leonard, clinical and regulatory officer at the Association of Optometrists.
The recent case study was only one of the many cases of misplaced contact lenses reported over the years. In a case study published in 2013, an 83-year-old woman who presented swelling in her left upper lid was found to have had a soft contact lens lodged in her left eye. According to the case study, the woman used soft contact lenses for 14 years, and experienced swelling for the last two to three years.
Upon examination, it was found that the swelling was caused by the presence of a soft silicone hydrogel contact lens with granulation tissue. The lens was subsequently removed. The researchers discovered that the patient lost a soft contact lens from her left eye 13 years ago. The patient only assumed that the lens only fell out and never had an appointment with an optician or an ophthalmologist. According to reports, the patient continued using another pair of contact lenses after she "misplaced" her original contacts. (Related: Woman goes blind after wearing contact lenses for six months - follow these tips to ensure healthy eyes)