Checking up on check-ups

01 January 2018

In July, there was a case presented in Optometry Today that caught my attention. In equal parts horrifying and fascinating, it described how surgeons, about to perform a scheduled cataract operation, discovered an incredible 27 contact lenses in one of the patient’s eyes. Seventeen of these lenses had fused together in what was described as a ‘blueish mass’ whilst another 10 lenses were found individually. Unsurprisingly, the professionals present – including an ophthalmologist with more than 20 years’ experience – were surprised by the discovery; none of them had ever seen anything like it before. In fact, the uniqueness of the case is precisely why it has been presented to the public, as experts had not previously believed it possible for the human eye to retain so many contact lenses without being symptomatic.

The patient, 67, had been wearing monthly disposable contact lenses for the past 35 years, but had not realised that any of them had gone missing. She merely attributed the irritation she felt to her age or dry eye syndrome. In truth, however, the build up of bacteria around the lenses increased the risk of endophthalmitis, which could have severely damaged the patient’s eye. It is a wonder that she was ultimately unscathed after the removal of the lenses. The most striking part of this case, however – and the thing that interested me the most – was the fact that the patient in question had not been attending regular appointments with an optometrist, and this is undoubtedly why she had been able to accumulate so many contact lenses without anyone (including herself) noticing.

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