If you were hoping to get through Monday without being horrified by the human body, you might want to look away now. After discovering a “bluish foreign body” during a routine cataract surgery, doctors had 27 contact lenses removed from a British woman’s eye. Yes, you read that number correctly. Twenty-seven. As in, more than two dozen. As in, 25 more than the average number of eyes a person has. As in, just an unholy number of contact lenses.
Doctors were preparing the woman, who is 67, for surgery and found the lump of contacts as they were injecting anesthesia into her eye. (Brief moment of pause to recognize how horrible that very normal medical procedure sounds/likely is.) An initial mass of 17 contacts were removed from her eye before an additional ten contact lenses were also discovered. “She was quite shocked,” Specialist trainee ophthalmologist Rupal Morjaria told Optometry Today.
Her doctor’s were equally surprised, in part because the woman hadn’t complained about any irritation. We have so many questions. Like, “how?” and “what?” and furthermore, “HOW?!” Anyone who wears contacts knows the painstaking agony that is having something messed up with your contact. Anyone with an eyeball or two can tell you that having an unwanted object of any kind in your eye is, to put it scientifically, super terrible. But this woman didn’t seem to notice the literal mass of contacts in her eyeball. “She thought her previous discomfort was just part of old age and dry eye,” Morjaria said to Optometry Today.
According to a report published in the British Medical Journal, the woman had been wearing monthly disposable contact lenses for more than 35 years. However, she hadn’t made any complaint about problems other than cataracts. While the 27 contacts didn’t appear to cause any obvious infection, Morjaria said she hopes this incident will make patients more aware about contact hygiene and getting routine eye exams.
Replacing lenses often enough and cleaning them correctly are two common mistakes contact lens wearers make. I was personally guilty of sleeping in my contact lenses every so often and didn’t think it was that big of a deal. That is until I tried removing my contacts after sleeping them and lightly scratched my cornea. Luckily, no long term damage was done. But nothing scares you straight like the burn of a mild corneal abrasion.
Researchers have also found that your contact lenses can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Like other parts of the human body, your eyes have “good bacteria” that help with the natural balance of its micro-biome. However, when not properly cleaned or cared for, contact lenses can upset that delicate balance, causing an increase in pathogens responsible for things like inflammatory eye conditions. That unbalance can become so serious that one woman almost had her eyeball eaten by a parasite because of improper contact wear. Yes, eaten. I told you if you didn't want to by horrified by the human body you should have left a while ago.
The moral of the story is this: take care of your contact lenses and, more importantly, your eyeballs. If you wear contacts regularly, maybe give your eyes a break every once in awhile. Not only are glasses ~*very in*~ fashion-wise, it’ll also be pretty hard for you to accidentally wear 27 pairs at once.