• British Medical Journal
    Cataract/Anterior Segment, Comprehensive Ophthalmology

    Surgeons from the United Kingdom reported the removal of 27 contact lenses from a 67-year-old patient’s eye, found at the beginning of routine cataract surgery.

    "She was quite shocked," said specialist trainee ophthalmologist Rupal Morjaria.

    The woman, who has been wearing monthly disposable contact lenses for approximately 35 years, had not complained about any ocular problems other than cataracts, according to a brief report in the British Medical Journal.

    During administration of anesthesia, a bluish foreign body emerged from the base of the superior fornix. The hard mass turned out to be 17 contact lenses bound together by mucus. Ten additional lenses were found upon further examination.

    Following this startling discovery, the surgery was postponed to allow accumulated bacteria to clear.

    The medical team hypothesized that the patient’s poor baseline vision and deep-set eyes might have contributed to the unusually large number of retained foreign bodies. 

    "When she was seen two weeks after I removed the lenses she said her eyes felt a lot more comfortable," Morjaria said. "She thought her previous discomfort was just part of old age and dry eye."

    While 1 or 2 trapped contact lenses is a fairly common occurrence, 3 or more is highly unusual as most patients would experience a burning sensation like dry eye, according to ophthalmologist Jeff Pettey, MD.

    The case also illustrates the importance of healthy contact lens habits, as well as regular professional maintenance care.